Football: Ground-breaking black England player Cyrille Regis dies, aged 59

Former West Bromwich Albion, Coventry and Aston Villa forward Cyrille Regis won five caps for England between 1982 and 1987, having been one of the stars of the Baggies team between 1977 and 1984.
Former West Bromwich Albion, Coventry and Aston Villa forward Cyrille Regis won five caps for England between 1982 and 1987, having been one of the stars of the Baggies team between 1977 and 1984.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Former West Bromwich Albion, Coventry and Aston Villa forward Cyrille Regis, who blazed a trail for black footballers in the English game, has died at the age of 59, the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) announced on Monday.

Regis, born in French Guiana, won five caps for England between 1982 and 1987, having been one of the stars of the Baggies team between 1977 and 1984.

He scored 112 goals in 297 appearances for Albion before moving on to Coventry, winning the FA Cup with the Sky Blues in 1987.

Along with Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson, who joined West Brom in 1978, the trio of black players were nicknamed "The Three Degrees" after the singing trio of the same name.

"Terribly sad news this morning that footballing pioneer Cyrille Regis has died aged 59," the PFA tweeted.

"A true gentleman and legend, he will be deeply missed. Our sympathies to his family and friends."

Former England captain Alan Shearer tweeted: "What a man. What a centre-forward! One of my earliest football memories was walking into WBA for a trial as a 13 year old kid, seeing Cyrille Regis and being in awe of him. RIP big man."