Former England and West Brom striker Regis dies, aged 59

Former England and West Brom striker Regis dies, aged 59

As a striker, chiefly with West Brom and Coventry, Regis brought great pleasure to connoisseurs of emphatic scoring.

Regis, and his Baggies team-mates Brendan Batson and Laurie Cunningham suffered sickening racist abuse simply because they wanted to do what they loved, play football.

Regis will be remembered fondly at West Brom, having been named the club's all-time Cult Hero in 2004 in a BBC vote in which he gained 65 per cent of the poll, and he was also named by the club's supporters as one of their greatest 16 players in a poll that was organised as part of the club's 125th anniversary in the same year.

"For the rest of my playing days, it was also a motivation, a reminder that these people were not going to stop me", said Regis, whose role as a pioneer for black players in the game remained a source of deep satisfaction.

Regis earned five caps for England during a career which saw him win the FA Cup with Coventry City in 1987. He was more than just a footballer, he blazed a trail for every black player who followed him, an inspiration to myself and many players of my era.

Following his spell at Coventry, Regis joined Aston Villa before stints with Wolves, Wycombe Wanderers and Chester City.

He made 614 league appearances and scored 158 league goals during his 19 year professional playing career.

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Regis was born in French Guiana but moved to London with his family at the age of five.

West Brom are due to unveil a 10-foot statue of Regis, Cunningham and Batson at the Hawthorns this season.

Following the news he had passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest, his widow Julia said: "He came into football the hard way and never lost his passion for the game". "He was a role model for so many because he always treated everyone he met with kindness and respect".

Regis became the third black player picked for England, after Anderson and Cunningham, when he won his first cap in 1982. He scored twice in a League Cup tie at Rotherham.

As a player, Regis stood out for his powerful performances at centre-forward and his former manager Atkinson believes he should have had more recognition by his country.

"And he was an even better bloke than he was a player". Regis was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2008.

A statute of the trio called "The Celebration" was unveiled at West Brom four years ago.

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