Cyrille Regis
Cyrille Regis in attendance during the Sky Bet League One match between Leyton Orient and MK Dons at The Matchroom Stadium on October 12, 2013 Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

Trailblazing former England footballer and Midlands great Cyrille Regis has died at the age of 59, it was announced on Monday morning.

The West Bromwich Albion Former Players Association (FPA) initially confirmed that the legendary ex-Baggies and Coventry City star passed away after being taken ill on Sunday [14 January] evening.

"Cyrille and I were soulmates, he was the perfect man for me and we had a wonderful life together," widow Julia said in a statement released via West Brom.

"He was a beautiful man and a wonderful husband, father, grandfather brother and uncle.

"Losing him has turned my whole world upside down. It is a void that will never be filled.

"I have been moved by the many messages of support and condolences I have received and the kind things people have said about Cyrille as a person and a professional.

"He came into football the hard way and never lost his passion for the game. He was a role model for so many because he always treated everyone he met with kindness and respect."

Alongside the late Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson, Regis, survived by two children and three grandchildren, formed part of a pioneering triumvirate of black players under Ron Atkinson at The Hawthorns that played together at a time when racism was rife throughout English football.

The French Guiana-born, west-London raised centre-forward scored a total of 158 league goals in 614 appearances for West Brom, Coventry, Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Wycombe Wanderers and Chester City after starting out with spells at non-league Molesey and Hayes.

Regis also earned five senior international caps for England between 1982-87 before ending a 19-year professional playing career in 1996. He was part of the Coventry team under John Sillett and George Curtis that stunned Tottenham Hotspur in extra-time of the 1987 FA Cup final at the old Wembley Stadium.

Regis, who originally trained as an electrician and later worked as both a coach and a football agent, was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Wolverhampton in 2001 and an MBE for his services to the voluntary sector and football in 2008.

A long-delayed 10ft, £220,000 statue honouring Regis, Cunningham and Batson - nicknamed the 'Three Degrees' by Atkinson - is finally expected to be completed in the coming months. Cunningham died in a car crash in Spain in 1989.

Tributes to Regis have flooded in from across the footballing world, with fans, his former clubs, anti-racism campaigners and players past and present quick to pay homage to an inspirational figure...

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