31 Jan Jonathan Barnett’s emotional tribute to Cyrille Regis
Cyrille Regis’ family and friends were joined by thousands of fans, former players and star names of football for an emotional celebration of his life and achievements at West Bromwich Albion’s ground, the Hawthorns.
Among the speakers at the event were members of Cyrille’s family, including his widow Julia, and Jonathan Barnett, chairman of Stellar Group.
Cyrille worked as an agent for Stellar Group for 15 years and was described by Jonathan as “our brightest star”.
Below is a transcript of Jonathan’s speech. Once again everyone at Stellar Group extends their deepest condolences to Julia, Cyrille’s children and grandchildren and all of Cyrille’s family and friends.
Cyrille Regis will always be part of the Stellar family.
‘Stellar’ means star.
And whether you were a partner in the business …
… a client …
… or a cleaner …
… you knew that Cyrille was our brightest star.
As a player he was strong, direct, cool and resilient.
And as an agent …
… he demonstrated every one of those qualities.
And so much more.
We had a young client.
On the fringes of the professional game.
Struggling at home.
Beset by demons.
There was only one man for the job.
So in Cyrille went.
And a decade later …
… that client is a Premier League star.
Who is quite clear that he owes everything to Cyrille.
That story isn’t a one off.
Again and again, troubled young men would meet Cyrille …
… and their lives would be transformed for the better.
I know what many fans think of agents.
And there is no smoke without fire.
But there are great agents.
A great agent cares.
A great agent develops the player and the person.
A great agent is selfless.
And Cyrille was a great agent.
He didn’t even like to use the term ‘agent’.
He preferred mentor.
He listened. Really listened.
Always calm. Always thoughtful.
But tough too.
He helped one young player through the ranks.
His first contract was due to be signed on Monday 15th January.
Cyrille died on the Sunday.
But such was his impact on the young man …
… that the player insisted that the section on the form entitled ‘agent’ …
… said ‘Cyrille Regis’.
As for his colleagues …
… well we all loved him too.
Wherever he touched our lives.
Cyrille the golfer …
… whose competitive instincts never left him!
Cyrille the giver …
… who would receive requests for autographs and shirts from poorly fans …
… and rather than ignore them or send something in the post …
… would appear in hospitals and homes to present gifts in person.
Cyrille the spectator …
… who couldn’t help elbowing you in the arm as he sat in the stands …
… competing for every header!
Watching football with Cyrille was a bruising experience …
… I can’t even imagine what it must have been like marking him!
As for me.
Well I had the privilege of a one-to-one meeting with Cyrille every week or so.
Imagine the stereotypical chat between two football agents.
And now picture the two of us.
The practising Jew and the devout Christian …
… putting the world to rights …
… and discussing the Old Testament.
Eventually we might even mention a player or two!
I will miss those chats so much.
Cyrille never preached to me.
But he made me think in completely new ways.
His empathy …
… his compassion …
… and his steel…
… could achieve anything he set his mind to.
He was intensely private.
But he had a huge heart.
With which he loved so many.
His children and grandchildren.
And his teammates …
… none more so than Laurie Cunningham.
How ironic, that it was Cyrille’s heart …
… that eventually gave in.
And in the fortnight since …
… we have witnessed this outpouring of love …
… that has transcended any club …
… any race …
… or any religion.
Because Cyrille Regis was nothing less than a giant.
A gentle, thoughtful, generous, passionate, determined, resilient, godly giant.
A giant who did so much for football.
Who did so much for black people.
And who, I truly believe, did so much for humanity.
He made me a better agent.
But, more importantly …
… he made me a better person.
Thank you Cyrille.
May you rest in peace.