Early lifeRegis was born in Maripasoula, French Guiana, to Robert and Mathilde Regis. His father moved to England in 1962, with the rest of the family, including Cyrille, following a year later. The family lived initially in the Portobello Road area of London, later moving to Stonebridge. Raised as a Roman Catholic, Regis attended Kensal Rise Primary School and later, Cardinal Hinsley RC Secondary School in Harlesden.
Regis participated in athletics, cricket and football at Cardinal Hinsley and he was called up to represent the Borough of Brent boys football team. He was also offered a trial by Chelsea, but was unable to take advantage due to a hamstring injury. Regis progressed to playing Sunday league football for Ryder Brent Valley. He then moved to Oxford & Kilburn Boys before re-joining Ryder Brent Valley.
After leaving school, Regis trained as an electrician, earning a City and Guilds diploma; he continued to practise the trade until his move into professional football. He is the cousin of John Regis MBE, the former English athlete, who still holds the UK record for the 200 metres.
Non-leagueThe 1975–76 season saw Regis move to Athenian League club Molesey, for whom he scored around 25 goals during his one campaign for the club. He was then approached by Boreham Wood, but did not join them as he had been told by Molesey manager John Sullivan that he was under contract. Regis later discovered that he was too young to be under a professional contract and quit Molesey to join semi-professional Hayes of the Isthmian League, signing on 7 July 1976.
Regis scored 24 goals for Hayes in the 1976–77 season and was then spotted by West Bromwich Albion's chief scout Ronnie Allen, who recommended that the First Division club should sign him. With the Albion directors unsure of paying a four-figure fee for such a young, unproven player, Allen offered to fund any initial payment from his own pocket, so sure was he that Regis would make it in the top tier of English football. The transfer took place in May 1977, for an up-front fee of £5,000, plus another £5,000 after 20 appearances.
West Bromwich AlbionShortly after bringing Regis to Albion, Allen took over as team manager, following the resignation of his predecessor Johnny Giles. Regis scored on his debut for West Bromwich Albion's reserve team in a Central League match against Sheffield Wednesday reserves. He made his first team debut in a League Cup match against Rotherham United on 31 August 1977, scoring twice in a 4–0 win. Three days later Regis made his league debut in a 2–1 victory over Middlesbrough. Again he found the net, taking the ball from the halfway line to the penalty area before scoring with a right-foot drive. Middlesbrough's David Mills, who later became a team-mate of Regis at Albion, described it as "a goal of sheer brilliance".
Regis also scored in his first FA Cup match in January 1978, helping Albion to beat Blackpool 4–1. A few days later, Albion appointed a new manager, Ron Atkinson. Ronnie Allen had departed in late-December to manage the Saudi Arabia national team and John Wile, the club's captain, had acted as caretaker manager in the interim.
Regis teamed up with two other black players, Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson. It was very unusual for an English club to simultaneously field three black players. Although not by any means the first black footballers to play professionally in England, the Three Degrees (a reference to The Three Degrees contemporary vocal trio of the same name) were an integral part of their acceptance in the English leagues. A strong and fast traditional centre-forward, Regis was voted PFA Young Player of the Year in 1978 and earned the Goal of the Season award in 1981–82, for his powerful long-range shot against Norwich City in the FA Cup.
Regis finished his stint at West Brom with 112 goals (League & Cup) in 301 total appearances, though he did not manage to win a major honour at the Hawthorns. West Brom were defeated by Ipswich Town in an FA Cup semi-final in 1978 and lost in another FA Cup semi-final four years later to QPR in 1982. West Brom also lost a two-legged League Cup semi-final to Tottenham Hotspur in 1982. West Brom finished third in the First Division in 1979 and fourth in 1981. Ron Atkinson regards the 5-3 away win at Old Trafford on 30 December 1978 as the quintessential W.B.A game from the period, with Regis hitting the final goal with typical gusto in the second half.
Coventry CityRegis enjoyed a lengthy spell at Highfield Road, spanning seven seasons at the club. He enjoyed popular partnerships with David Bennett, Terry Gibson, Keith Houchen, David Speedie and briefly Steve Livingstone. Purchased by Bobby Gould as a 26 year old in 1984, Regis endured a couple of relegation battles in the mid 1980s, where his strike partner was Terry Gibson, playing a large part in a memorable 4-1 survival clincher against Everton in 1985. In 1986-87 the club emerged as top ten regulars under John Sillett and George Curtis. Regis enjoyed his best season since his West Brom heyday and the team tactically began to play to his strengths, often through Bennett, instead of the long ball game favoured by previous managers.
Regis was a key part of the FA Cup winning team in 1987, where he was partnered by Keith Houchen. He scored arguably one of his finest goals for the Sky Blues in the quarter final against Sheffield Wednesday; splitting the defence on the break with David Bennett before a rasping shot past keeper Martin Hodge. Coventry went on to win the game 3-1. Regis also scored in the third round tie at home to Bolton Wanderers and had a headed goal disallowed in the Wembley final. He was never a prolific striker as at West Brom, but he remained a popular figure with the Sky Blues faithful. His Coventry City career comprised 274 total appearances, producing 62 goals (league & Cup) and earned him an FA Cup winners medal, three top ten finishes, and a 1990 League Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.
Regis earned a recall to the England team in October 1987, coming on as a sub against Turkey. Regis was also the first Coventry City player to score a winning goal at Anfield, in their first ever league win there (1-0) in November 1989. This came a season after he had also scored in City's first ever win over Aston Villa at Highfield Road (2-1). Whilst his infrequent strike rate provoked criticism after 1987, goalscoring at City remained a collaborative effort between Regis and the other City strikers of the time (Speedie, Gynn, Gallacher, Bannister). Yet none of the others emerged to truly stamp their authority on the team, the only exception being David Speedie in 1988-89. Perhaps the most fitting summary of his time at Highfield Road should be a statistical one, in that only Dion Dublin has surpassed Regis's goalscoring record for the Sky Blues in the modern game. Following John Sillett's departure in November 1990, and the raft of changes made under new manager Terry Butcher in 1990-91, Regis was sold to Aston Villa at the age of 33.
Aston Villa and WolvesAfter leaving Coventry in 1991, he was reunited with his former West Bromwich Albion manager, Ron Atkinson at Aston Villa and partnered Dalian Atkinson in the 1991–92 season. It appeared that he had rediscovered his goal-scoring touch, finishing the season on 11 goals (during only one season at Highfield Road did he better this), but in the 1992-93 season, his first team chances were limited following the arrival of Dean Saunders. Villa finished the first Premier League season in second place, beaten to the title by Ron Atkinson's former club Manchester United.
Regis was transferred to another West Midlands club, this time Wolverhampton Wanderers. Brought in by Graham Turner, Regis' first-team opportunities were restricted by the form of strikers Steve Bull and David Kelly, meaning Regis made only eight league starts. His stay lasted only one season, as former England manager Graham Taylor replaced Turner, and set about a clear out of the squad.