Obituary: Cyrille Regis

As a youngster – although there is only six years difference – I remember Cyrille Regis well  from his football playing days at West Bromwich Albion, Coventry City and as an England international. As a South African lad back in the dark days of apartheid in the late 1970’s we only got a smattering of English football on SABC television when it first started broadcasting on our African shores as “Match of the Day.” I was an avid Liverpool supporter back then and had collected many a SHOOT! magazine from the UK which I collected almost weekly from our local CNA news agency outlet, where the team posters and/or player profiles would proudly adorn my bedroom walls, that resembled “wall-paper”! Cyrille Regis was among those I idolised. You see, back then I clearly was an idolater who knew there was a “God”, but just did not know Him intimately, and therefore football was my god.

Cyrille Regis playing for West Bromwich Albion against Norwich City in 1978. Photograph: Mark Leech/Getty Images

Sadly, we have now come to learn of the death of Cyrille Regis (read more at his personal website) who passed into eternity on Sunday 14th January 2018, but what is most pleasing to know, which I had not known previously, is that Cyrille had become a born-again Christian! He had placed his faith in Jesus Christ. Whilst death has gripped Cyrille’s body, his soul is not dead, but he has fallen asleep as he lived with a hope that he is more alive now than he had ever been before! I hereby share an obituary for Cyrille Regis (9 February 1958 – 14 January 2018), aged 59, as it appears at the website Christians in Sport (Source):

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Obituary: Cyrille Regis

Date posted: 15/01/18

Cyrille Regis

We thank God for the life of former England footballer and Christians in Sport Trustee Cyrille Regis, who died yesterday at the age of 59.

Cyrille was a legend of West Midlands football and best known as a centre forward for West Bromwich Albion and Coventry City.

Christians in Sport General Director Graham Daniels said:

“Cyrille was an outstanding footballer but much more importantly an outstanding man. His courage as one of the first famous high profile black footballers meant that he became a role model which has changed the canvass of professional football. His faith in Jesus Christ, which he arrived at after the death of his close friend Laurie Cunningham, became a fantastic encouragement to many elite sportspeople to consider their relationship with the God who gave them their talents. The man was a giant in his generation.”

Just the third black player to be capped by England, Cyrille was a pioneer in the fight against racism in football. He played 614 matches and scored 158 goals in a 19-year professional career, which also saw him make five appearances for England. Cyrille’s career highlights included winning the FA Cup with Coventry City in 1987 and scoring the goal of the season, while playing for West Brom in 1981-2. He also had spells with Aston Villa and Wolves, which cemented his popularity in the region.

It was the death in a car crash of his best friend and former teammate Laurie Cunningham in 1989 that prompted Cyrille to ask questions about faith. His search for answers ultimately led to him becoming a Christian after what he described as “a real encounter with Jesus”.

After Laurie’s death, Cyrille started attending church and soon a local baptist minister sent him a book called A New Dimension by Michael Green,

Cyrille_Regis_obit_profile Cyrille said: “As I’m reading this book, the penny drops. It really sinks in that Christ loves me. He died for me and He rose again from the dead and this awesome sense of peace comes over me.”

Cyrille soon became involved with and supported by Christians in Sport as he looked to live out his faith as a professional footballer. Following his retirement in 1996, he became a sports agent and remained passionate about sharing his story of faith.

He said: “I meet people all the time, some famous, some not who are all looking for hope and peace. I have learned that money cannot buy peace of mind so I simply tell people how I found hope and peace in God. The great thing about it is that anyone can have the peace that I have, you just need to know God.”

A member of Renewal Christian Centre in Solihull, Cyrille was a keen advocate of Christians in Sport and joined our Board of Trustees in 2011. Cyrille was also the first interviewee when we launched the Christians in Sport podcast in 2016. On it he shared his story of faith and football with General Director Graham Daniels.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Cyrille’s wife Julia and his family at this time.

Soli Deo Gloria

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