Nice one, Cyrille
13 March 2018
The footballing world paid an emotional tribute to England striker and Stonebridge lad Cyrille Regis who died suddenly aged 59 in January but not before rising above racism to inspire a generation.
Born in French Guiana in 1958, Cyrille and his family moved to London in the 1960s and settled in Stonebridge.
Cyrille attended Kensal Rise Primary, now Ark Franklin Primary Academy, and Cardinal Hinsley RC Secondary School, now Newman Catholic College, before making his way up from non-league football to play for West Bromwich Albion in the top flight of English football.
At that time, there were very few black players playing professional football in England and Cyrille and other black players regularly received racial abuse - monkey chants, bananas being thrown on to the pitch, and one incident where Cyrille received a bullet in the post.
In an interview televised on Channel 4, Troy Townsend from Kick it Out, said: "Cyrille used that as a positive. Cyrille kept that bullet and used it as an inspiration to do good. He never spoke down of any of his experiences. He was such a lovely, mild-mannered man who is going to be an absolute great loss to the game.
"He's a role model for many. Our black players now can walk on the pitch and feel safe. I don't think that could have happened in Cyrille's era in the seventies and eighties.
"He was a trailblazer for our young black people now and is someone that I think the game will continue to look up to."
Cyrille went on to lift the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium with Coventry in 1987, before stints at Aston Villa, Wolves, Wycombe Wanderers and Chester.
He was made an MBE in 2008 and returned to West Brom as a coach before becoming a football agent
Paying tribute on behalf of Brent Council, Cllr Muhammed Butt said: "Cyrille was a not only a fantastic talent, but a pioneer in helping football tackle the racial abuse of its players. He was a Stonebridge lad who returned to Brent to lift the FA Cup at Wembley and represent England, later collecting an MBE for services to charity and football. His passing at the age of 59 is both a huge shock and a very sad loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."