22nd Sep, 2018

FA Cup winner Greg Downs: 'Cyrille Regis would be proud and embarrassed' by Coventry Cathedral tribute and wide adulation

Les Reid 27th Feb, 2018 Updated: 27th Feb, 2018

CYRILLE Regis would be both “proud” and “embarrassed” by the city’s celebration of his life at Coventry Cathedral this Sunday, says his Sky Blues 1987 FA Cup-winning teammate Greg Downs.

The popular former left back, who is now a police officer in Norfolk, will give a speech at the ‘Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Cyrille Regis MBE’ at Coventry Cathedral on Sunday (March 4, 4pm).

He will also be among more than 50 former Coventry City players at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday for Legends Day 2018 in honour of Big Cyrille, who died in January, aged 59.

Speaking with the Coventry Observer, Downs responded to our question about how he thought Cyrille would feel about the memorial service by saying : “Knowing Cyrille, he’d be very proud that people think of him the way they do.

“He’d be embarrassed too as he was a humble man. I know he got his MBE, but he was humble. Since his passing, we’ve heard how he would help people, including with racism.”

Downs will be accompanied by other Coventry City legends for both the cathedral and Legends Day – when the Sky Blues play fellow promotion hopefuls Lincoln – including several fellow FA Cup winners.

Some of the 1987 side felt too uncomfortable at the thought of addressing a large crowd from the pulpit for the special event.

Downs joked: “I don’t know what I have let myself in for. Someone from the 87 team has to say something about what we had at Coventry.

“I’ll give my personal thoughts about what he meant to the team and as a man.”

Invited to elaborate a little on those thoughts, Downs added: “He was the nicest man you could ever meet. He loved the team spirit, and we shared the greatest day of our footballing lives together.

“He was a major part in that and, as John Sillett has said, he formed us around Cyrille. We got the ball into his feet and that enabled the other players to go and play.

“We had Killer (Brian Kilcline) as captain. But, off the field, Cyrille was a captain in his own right because of his stature, and we listened.”

Full details of the Cyrille Regis celebration service which this newspaper campaigned for – featuring his family, former teammates and music – have been announced.

A total of 700 free tickets have been made available to the public.

Expected to be of national interest, the celebration will also feature speeches by the Archbishop of York John Sentamu; and music from a Specials and Coventry great, Neville Staple.

The service, led by the Dean of Coventry the Very Reverend John Witcombe, includes Cyrille’s former West Bromich Albion teammate and fellow ‘pioneering’ black footballer Brendon Batson.

Music also comes from the Boy Choristers of the Cathedral Choir, Mark Beswick, and gospel singer Sandra Godley, and will include a rendition of the Sky Blue Song.

* Look out for our special ‘Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Cyrille Regis MBE at Coventry Cathedral’ supplement on Thursday on print and online, and more articles through the week.

For our coverage of Legends Day 2018, click here.

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