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A true pioneer

STANDARD BEARER: Regis in action for his beloved West Brom

QUEENS PARK Rangers, and Newcastle legend Les Ferdinand has said at Cyrille Regis’ legacy will live on.

Regis died recently of a heart attack and Ferdinand has told the Voice of Sport of Regis’ influence on the sport in general and his own game in particular. Ferdinand, now the director of Football at his former club QPR, joined Regis at last November’s Football Black List Celebration in central London.

Regis was recipient of the Keith Alexander Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the beautiful game. “You look at Cyrille and he looked in great health and spirits, everything about him. He was the epitome of someone that looks after themselves,” said Ferdinand.

“He was a true pioneer along with the late Laurie Cunningham and Brendan Batson (check spelling). Wherever you met Cyrille he made time for you. You felt great to be in his company and I’ve never come across anybody that had a bad word to say about Cyrille. No one ever ever said anything bad or disrespectful about him and for me that said everything.

“All the people he inspired and the generation that don’t know anything about him, we have to make sure his legacy lives on."

Today’s modern striker owes a debt gratitude to Regis who set the standard for all to follow.
Ferdinand added: “We’d seen a smidgen of black players coming through at other clubs who had probably come before them (Regis, Cunningham and Batson) but they only played on occasions.

PICTURED: Cyrille Regis at the Football Blacklist event in November 2017

“With the three at West Brom it was the first time that young black men and boys could say ‘wow we could have career in football just like them.’ It was the first time we saw black players playing at the same time on a regular basis. When you talk about pioneers he was massive.”

Like Ferdinand, the legend that is Regis made his name at non-league level and never looked back. “He came out of Hayes like me,” recalls Ferdinand. Regis will be missed by many up and down the country, especially in the Midlands having played for West Brom, Coventry, Aston Villa and Wolves Ferdinand, remembers an early encounter against Regis. “It was 1987 and I was on the bench for QPR. I just remember him coming out with his team and I thought ‘look at the size of him!’

“The way he played I was in awe of him. Until I got onto the pitch I was just looking at him in admiration. I eventually got on the pitch and even then I was still full of admiration. He had it all as an out and out centre forward. He could play with his back to goal, pick the ball up, turn and run at people. He could score with either foot and with his head, he was the complete centre forward.

R.I.P: February 9, 1958- January 14, 2018

“He was a massive inspiration for me. When I saw what he was able to do I knew what I had to achieve, how I had to move myself and game forward. I looked at very aspect of his game and that’s why I became the forward I was.

The news of Regis’ sudden passing has touched not only the football fraternity, he was a genuine man of the people.

Ferdinand confirmed Regis’ status within the game when he said: “When someone passes we always talk about how wonderful they were and sometimes people can be sceptical but Cyrille was a genuine genuine nice guy both on and off the field.

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