The Premier League will mark the death of Cyrille Regis with a minute of applause and the wearing of black armbands at this weekend’s matches.
The former West Brom, Coventry and Aston Villa star, who also played five times for England, died on Sunday of a suspected heart attack at the age of 59.
Strong, fast and blessed with a powerful shot, Regis was a superb striker but, perhaps more importantly, a pioneer for black players at a time when overt racism was still commonplace in the game.
His death came as a huge shock to his many friends and admirers, and there has been considerable criticism in the last few days of the football authorities’ failure to arrange a fitting tribute this weekend.
Prior to the Premier League’s announcement on Friday morning, the only plans were for armbands and a minute’s applause before West Brom’s game at Everton and applause before Villa’s game against Barnsley and Coventry’s against Swindon.
But in a statement, the Premier League said it “recognises the important career of Cyrille Regis, and his special role as a trailblazer for black players in modern English football”.
Regis was only the third black player to be capped by England at senior level, and his memory will also be honoured by the Football Association during the next round of international friendlies.
An FA spokesperson said: “The FA plans to pay tribute to Cyrille Regis and acknowledge his tremendous contribution to English football during the March international window. We will confirm details soon.”
It remains to be seen how many English Football League clubs will follow the Premier League’s example this weekend.
When asked what the EFL planned to do for a man whose career largely predated the pre-Premier League era and who also had stints at Wolves and Wycombe, an EFL spokesman said: “The EFL understands the strength of feeling throughout football for the impact Cyrille Regis made as a player and as a campaigner for black players in the game.
“The EFL would like to reiterate the respect and gratitude that has been shown by the football family and the wider sporting world for the contribution he has made.
“The EFL has communicated to all 72 clubs, and while the EFL is placing no obligation on its clubs to organise a tribute, we are offering our full support for any proposed marks of respect they would like to make ahead of this weekend’s fixtures.
“We will always support the recognition of players who have left a lasting legacy on our game.”
Born in French Guiana, Regis moved to England with his family aged five.
He came through non-league football to join West Brom in 1977. There, he was one of the so-called ‘Three Degrees’ with Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson – a thrilling combination that helped pave the way for the next generation of black talent.
Regis moved to Coventry in 1984 for £250,000 and helped them win the FA Cup in 1987, the only major trophy of his career.
His widow Julia mourned the loss of “a very precious treasure” after his death was announced on Monday.