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Legend Cyrille Regis happy to be part of 'The Celebration'

PROUD MOMENT: Leader of Sandwell Council, Councillor Darren Cooper, Cyrille Regis MBE and sculptor Graham Ibbeson (right) at the site of where 'The Celebration' statue will stand in on the New Square development in West Bromwich town centre

WEST BROM hero Cyrille Regis has given his seal of approval to the location of a sculpture honouring him and two other Albion legends.

A 10ft bronze statue of Regis, Brendon Batson and Laurie Cunningham will be erected in the town centre to highlight their role in paving the way for black footballers in this country.

The location of the statue was unveiled on December 12 as being at the heart of West Bromwich’s New Square development. The Tesco-led shopping centre, which opens next summer, will feature a range of shops, restaurants, cafes, bars and a cinema. It will now also be home to the ‘The Celebration’ sculpture which shows the three players after a winning goal.

Regis, a Freeman of the Borough of Sandwell, gave the thumbs up to the location of the statue. “It’s very exciting to see where the statue is going to go and a real honour to know so many people visiting the town will see it,” he said. “I always say that this project is not about Brendan, Laurie and me, but it represents the journey and progression made by black footballers.”

Darren Cooper, Leader of Sandwell Council, said: “We’re thrilled to have this statue as part of the new look town centre. We’ve been working very hard for many years to make sure West Bromwich becomes one of the region’s premier towns. Having the Celebration statue here, marking the achievements of these legendary players who did so much for the game, will only add to it. It really is very exciting for everyone in Sandwell.”

Jonathan Simpson, corporate affairs manager for Tesco, said: “We are honoured to have Celebration 1979 statue positioned inside the New Square development. The statue will no doubt become an important part of West Bromwich’s heritage and we are excited to host such a prestigious landmark on our scheme.”

After visiting the site, Regis signed copies of the ‘Celebration 1979’ commemorative magazine at The Public art centre. The 64-page publication details the historic achievements of the players and examines the influence they have had on the modern game.

It is one of a series of initiatives to raise funds for the Celebration statue. A total of 4,000 copies of the magazine have been printed.

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