Big Cyrille – Loved By Lots, Admired By All
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To the mountain of words already written and broadcast, we at Wolves Heroes would like to add our own condolences to the family and friends of Cyrille Regis after yesterday’s appalling news that he had passed away at the age of only 59.
Although it’s true that the genial striker scored at least twice as many goals against Wolves as he managed for them, he left a very fond mark on many of those he met through his time at Molineux.
I last met him at the stadium at the penultimate home game of last season when he happily whiled away several minutes just outside the players’ lounge at the visit of Blackburn in chatting to myself and Alison Matthews, the manager’s secretary at the club in recent years.
I also had cause to ring him over the summer when he told me he had been to the Caribbean earlier in the year to attend his grandmother’s 100th birthday celebrations.
All of which reminds us of how tragically early we have lost this outstanding specimen of a man – someone who was recommended to those at The Hawthorns in the second half of the 1970s by former Wolves manager Ronnie Allen.
Regis, who had earlier worked as an electrician while playing for Hayes in the Isthmian League, exploded on to the professional game and included a 1981-82 brace against Wolves among the four goals he scored in Black Country derbies.
He netted only twice in his 23 first-team games for Wolves – all played in 1993-94 and more than half of them as a substitute. But he was given a huge ovation when going on from the bench in the televised clash at Albion in the September.
He did have a derby highlight when he scored in a 3-0 midweek win at home to Birmingham shortly before Graham Turner’s departure and had had the manager leaping joyously out of the dug-out by hitting a late winner at Peterborough on New Year’s Day.
Throughout his season here, in between spells at Villa and Wycombe, the 1987 Coventry FA Cup winner was a model pro, well liked and looked up to by team-mates and a more subtle back-to-goal player than in his barnstorming early years.
He was an interested observer when his nephew Jason Robrts had a brief spell here in 1997-98 and had also been a frequent visitor to Molineux in more recent times through his work as a player’s agent.
At the start of his career, Cyrille had a natural affinity with George Berry, Bob Hazell and others at a time when black players walked the gauntlet of shocking racial abuse.
And it has been gratifying in the last 24 hours or so to see many of them, Ian Wright and Dion Dublin included, speak of him as an inspiration to them.
Mel Eves spoke eloquently of the sky-high regard in which Regis was held on the circuit when he said on social media: “Absolutely gutted to hear the sad news that we have lost a true sporting hero with the passing of Cyrille Regis. A colossus as a player and an even greater gentleman.”
We can only guess as to the huge numbers that will be present at his funeral.