He may have only been a Chester FC player for a season, but Cyrille Regis made an indelible mark on the football club.
The former Blues striker and England international passed away on Sunday evening following a heart attack. He was 59.
A trailblazer for black footballers in the 1970s and 1980s, Regis was an iconic figure thanks to spells with West Bromwich Albion and Coventry City, with his strength, intelligence and an eye for goal seeing him become one of English football's most feared front men.
The 1995/96 season with Chester proved to be his final stop after injury saw him retire before the 1996/97 season. But he provided many a magic moment.
His former teammates and manager have paid tribute.
“He was my first signing and my best signing.
“He will be truly missed. Whenever anyone dies then there is always going to be tributes paid and nice words said, but I truly don’t think Cyrille had an enemy in the world. He was a tremendous bloke and a total professional.
“I had played against Cyrille and knew how good he was and I had tried to sign him towards the end of the season before but Martin O’Neill, who was managing Wycombe Wanderers at the time, wasn’t keen to let him go.
“But he was available at the end of the season and Martin rang me and told me so the first thing I did was ring Cyrille. He didn’t need too much persuading to come to Chester.
“He was tremendous for me. He had a great physique and was so strong, clever and superb in the air. He didn’t train as much as the rest of the lads because we had to be mindful of his age but he was such a fit bloke.
“One of the reasons we brought him in was to help John Murphy, who was 18 at the time. He was a similar type of target man and we thought he could learn off him. He certainly did that and he was a big factor for John and really helped him improve his game.
“He had time for everybody and the whole team looked up to him.
“We wanted him back for the following season but he broke his ankle in training after falling down a rabbit hole and that was the end of that. It was one of the hazards of our training sessions at the time!
“He was a trailblazer for black players and he had to go through so much rubbish. But he came through it all and used it to motivate him and he became an iconic figure. His legacy will live on for many years to come.”
“He was a lovely fella.
“He was very quiet but he was still a big presence. He didn’t swear like some of us!
“Playing alongside him made you want to be better player because it was like you were wanting to impress him and make him see that you were a good player. It was a real honour to be in the same team as him and I was gutted to hear the news.
“I remember one time in the League Cup, we’d been drawn against Tottenham and we headed down there for the away leg. We got there and the stadium was fantastic. They’d just had this big stand built and we were walking around the pitch just soaking it all in.
“Cyrille had failed a fitness test that morning. We got there and he was looking round the place and saying ‘this is fantastic, I wish I was playing’. He said he felt fit enough to play and we’d all said to him to tell the gaffer (Kevin Ratcliffe) that he was fit.
“The lad that was coming in for him was John Murphy and he was only a teenager at the time. Cyrille could have played and he wanted to play but he said ‘no, I’ve had my time, young John should be playing here today’. That was the mark of the man.”
“It was a privilege to be play alongside him, even to be in his presence on and off the field. He was a wonderful man who was full of kindness and warmth.
“He may have lost half a yard of pace but he had not lost any of his technical ability. Sometimes you just had to sit back and admire what he could do with a football and the way he played. At 38 he was occupying two defenders and that made space for the rest of us.
“When I was growing up he used to be one of my footballing heroes. I used to watch him on the TV and was in awe of him. To then play alongside him all those years later was something really special and something that I will always cherish.
“He was a pioneer for black footballers and he did much more for the game than just play. He has a lasting legacy in football.
“I am in shock. Football has lost a truly great man.”
NEIL TURNER (BBC RADIO MERSEYSIDE)
“He was the most charming man.”
“There was no side to him at all, he was warm and gracious with his time. He would always be up for an interview and once we had finished he would stay around and chat about the game and ask us what we thought.
“He had time for everyone and everyone had time for him.
“He was a wonderful footballer and the most giving and charming man in the game.”
“I remember doing a video for a production company about his time in football, mostly at West Brom. There were a few references to Chester in there.
“On this video I was talking about him and his illustrious career. A few weeks later I had a phone call from him to thank me for it. It was the measure of the man that he took the time out to do that.
“He was a true great.”