Football: Racism Made Me Play Even Harder; FOOTBALL: Cyrille Regis Tells of Crowd Chants and Bullet Threat as He Played for Sky Blues Black History Month

Coventry Evening Telegraph (England), October 28, 2006 | Go to article overview

Football: Racism Made Me Play Even Harder; FOOTBALL: Cyrille Regis Tells of Crowd Chants and Bullet Threat as He Played for Sky Blues Black History Month


Byline: By Dean Valler

IN 1982, legendary Coventry City star, and black centre forward, Cyrille Regis was brought on as a substitute during England's 4-0 win against Northern Ireland.

Before the game he had received a letter containing a bullet and a message: "If you play for England at Wembley, one of these will be shot into your knees, you black b******."

It was the most extreme example of the volley of racist abuse suffered by Regis, who went on to become one of the best-known English footballers of his generation.

The fans' favourite, now aged 48, scored 62 goals in 274 games for the Sky Blues and was a member of the victorious 1987 FA Cup winning side.

In 1977, Regis and black team-mates Brendan Batson and the late Laurie Cunningham earned themselves the nickname The Three Degrees, while playing for West Bromwich Albion.

One of his biggest challenges was overcoming racism from fans on the terraces and inside a game where black players had not appeared at the highest level until the 1970s.

Regis, who was born in French Guyana, in the Caribbean, said: "Being a black player in the late-1970s and early-1980s, I had to put up with a lot of racism from opposition fans.

"There were many doubts about black players - that we were hot-weather players and that we didn't have enough courage, bottle or temperament for the game. …

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