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Cyrille Regis Biography

Became A Professional Soccer Player, Built An Impressive Record, Enjoyed A Twenty-year Career


British soccer player

Regis, Cyrille, photograph. Michael Fresco/Evening Standard/Getty Images.

Cyrille Regis is the best known of a trio of black players who appeared for the West Bromwich Albion team in the late 1970s, a time when there were very few black players in English soccer. At that time, to have three on one team was unique. A powerful striker with great pace, Regis joined West Bromwich Albion, also known as "The Baggies," in 1977 at the age of 19. In his first professional season, he scored 18 goals, appeared in a Football Association (FA) Cup semi-final, and became the Professional Footballers' Association Young Player of the Year. He joined Coventry City in 1984 and made almost 300 appearances, including being part of their FA Cup winning side of 1987. He played for England 14 times, including five full "caps," or appearances on the main team, as well as appearances in "B" internationals, and for the under-21 team. Regis was feared by defenders for his formidable pace, strength, and his ability to score goals from long range. He was also a fiercely competitive player, and though he faced a great deal of racist abuse on the pitch, he channeled his anger into a greater determination to play well. The efforts of Regis and the small number of other black players in Britain since the 1970s have changed the attitude of football fans and helped the English Football Association itself begin to take action against racism at games.

Cyrille Regis was born in Maripasoula, French Guyana, on February 9, 1958, to Robert Regis, a laborer from St Lucia, and Matilda Regis, from French Guyana. His first language was French, but he moved to Britain at age five and held a British passport because of his father's nationality. He grew up in London where he attended local schools; at age 16 he left school to begin an apprenticeship as an electrician. With obvious talent for soccer he also joined nearby amateur side Hayes Football Club where he stayed for two seasons, scoring a total of 45 goals, an impressive total for a teenager in a senior team. By then convinced he wanted to become a professional soccer player, Regis was spotted by West Bromwich Albion (WBA) scout Ronnie Allen and signed for £5000. It is claimed that Allen paid for Regis with his own money because he could not convince WBA about the player's ability.

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