Cyrille Regis MBE’s trailblazing career has received further recognition after the former England striker was inducted into the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame.
The prestigious Hall-of-Fame Award was presented to Cyrille’s widow Julia and his brother Dave by former England and Liverpool winger John Barnes, a previous inductee into the Hall of Fame, during a ceremony at Aston Villa – one of the four West Midlands clubs he represented.
The presentation fittingly took place during a ‘Strike A Change’ event, the flagship mentoring programme of the Cyrille Regis Legacy Trust. The fledgling charity was officially launched in the forward’s memory by members of his family in July at West Bromwich Albion, the club where Cyrille, alongside Brendon Batson and Laurie Cunningham, became a pioneer for black footballers in the ’70s.
The Hall-Of-Fame Awards, supported by the Professional Footballers’ Association, celebrate the achievements of those who have made an outstanding contribution to the game, either on or off the pitch. Past inductees include Cyrille’s former Albion team-mate Bryan Robson, England women’s record goalscorer Kelly Smith, George Best and Rio Ferdinand.
Tim Desmond, CEO of the National Football Museum, said: “Cyrille is the first inductee for our refreshed Hall of Fame which aims to recognise a wider diversity of those special football people who have made an outstanding contribution to the game of our lives. Cyrille was a pioneer and role model and it is fitting he is our first new inductee.
“We’re delighted Julia and Dave accepted the Hall-of-Fame Award on Cyrille’s behalf as members of the Regis family ensure Cyrille’s memory, and the community work that was close to his heart, lives on through the Cyrille Regis Legacy Trust.”
Cyrille’s induction, which poignantly took place during the nationwide Black History Month celebration, kicks off a longer-term partnership between the National Football Museum and the Cyrille Regis Legacy Trust.
John Barnes roomed with Cyrille as England Under-21 team-mates and was on the field when the French Guyana-born striker won his final senior cap as a sub against Turkey in 1987.
“It was an honour and a privilege to present this award to Julia and Dave in memory of such an iconic footballer who was an inspiration to so many black players,” he said. “Cyrille was a superstar on so many levels but remained grounded and humble.”
Cyrille, awarded an MBE in 2008 for his services to charity and football, scored more than 200 goals in just under 750 appearances during a professional career spanning two decades.
After being snapped up from non-league Hayes, he went on to become one of Albion’s greatest players before spells with Coventry City, where he won the 1987 FA Cup, Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Wycombe Wanderers and Chester City.
Renowned for his powerful displays and spectacular goals, he was capped five times by the Three Lions. Cyrille passed away suddenly in January 2018. He was 59.
Julia Regis, chair of the Trust, said: “Cyrille being inducted into the Hall of Fame is a lovely gesture by the National Football Museum. As a family, we remain immensely proud of the impact he made on the game both on and off the field.
“Cyrille’s legacy lives on and it was great that many of the young people he continues to inspire were present at the induction.”
Dave Regis, a Trust ambassador and former Stoke City and Birmingham City forward, said: “Cyrille’s induction into the Hall of a Fame is a great honour and well deserved for the person he was and how he inspired young black players who never thought they could break into professional football.
“My brother was a humble man. Even when players like John Barnes and Les Ferdinand told him he was their role model, he just took it in his stride.
“Cyrille always had time for people. The tributes over the past 18 months have been so overwhelming and just go to show how much people thought about him.”
Cyrille’s niece Simona Charles, a trustee of the Trust, also attended the presentation.
The Strike A Change programme is the inaugural initiative of the Cyrille Regis Legacy Trust, set up by members of Cyrille’s family to continue the community projects close to his heart, particularly the mentoring of youngsters from a difficult life environment, which was a central part of his life.
Strike A Change is a collaboration between the Cyrille Regis Legacy Trust and the charitable foundations at West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa, Coventry City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Birmingham City and Walsall.
Aimed at 14-15-year-olds who demonstrate a passion for football but are considered to be disengaged within their school or community, young people from the six clubs’ foundations gathered for a second time today. John Barnes delivered an inspirational talk around the theme ‘character’ before a mini tournament got underway.