Jason Roberts and John Barnes lead tributes at Cyrille Regis memorial service
Former West Brom striker Regis was remembered during a public memorial service at The Hawthorns.
Jason Roberts and John Barnes led the tributes to Cyrille Regis after an emotional memorial service at The Hawthorns.
Former West Brom striker Roberts, Regis’ nephew, hailed his uncle as a humble giant.
Ex-Albion, Coventry and Aston Villa striker Regis died suddenly earlier this month aged 59 and a private family funeral was held on Tuesday.
His widow Julia and the family then travelled to The Hawthorns where West Brom hosted a public service to celebrate the former England international’s life.
Regis was a pioneer after suffering racial abuse during his professional career, which started at Albion in 1977, and is credited with paving the way for a generation of black players.
📷 A wonderful celebration service for a wonderful man.— West Bromwich Albion (@WBA) January 30, 2018
Nice one, Cyrille 💙 pic.twitter.com/NdP0GvymzG
Roberts paid a heartfelt tribute during the service and then again afterwards.
He said: “I’ve been surprised since the start at how he was so universally loved and how his impact was more than just as a footballer. He was able to unite people around issues.
“He did it in a manner which painted him as a leader but it was never anything which he sought. That was the human he was.
“He had time for everyone and made them think they were the only person in the room. His faith and love for his family is why so many people have been impacted by his loss.”
Ex-Liverpool midfielder Barnes was also joined by Chris Hughton, Chris Ramsey, Les Ferdinand, Ron Atkinson and Dwight Yorke.
“The biggest compliment I can pay him was that he was a superstar but a humble superstar,” said Barnes. “He was an inspiration to a lot of black players.”
Brighton boss Hughton added: “Today’s very much abut Cyrille the man. Cyrille played in an era, the same era as me, where it was very difficult for black players.
“As eras go on, the modern day player who does not have to experience what Cyrille went through, can reflect on what he went through and the legacy he left behind.”
Regis’ funeral cortege left The Hawthorns at 8.45am on Tuesday with the current Albion squad and manager Alan Pardew giving it a guard of honour.
Around 1,800 were at The Hawthorns for the pubic service where singer Beverley Knight sung Going Up Yonder.
Former Baggies team-mate Brendon Batson paid a personal tribute to the congregation.
Atkinson, who managed Regis at Albion and Villa, also said afterwards: “If I was picking my best every team he would always be my number nine. He was a great bloke, he was a phenomenal footballer but an even better bloke.”
Regis was also an agent with the Stellar group and chairman Jonathan Barnett paid his own tribute.
“He was a giant who did so much for football, so much for black people, and so much for humanity,” he said.