Cyrille Regis and Garth Crooks speak to Under-21s squad ahead of Kick It Out International
England v Scotland
Kick It Out International
7.30pm, Tuesday 13 August 2013
Bramall Lane, Sheffield United
Live on BT Sport 1
Tickets: £10 adults, £5 children, click here to buy online
(Group tickets also available)
England’s Under-21 squad were delivered a moving presentation by Cyrille Regis and Garth Crooks at St George’s Park on Monday afternoon – as the former players recalled their experiences of racism in the English game.
Tuesday night’s Kick It Out International against Scotland at Bramall Lane – a celebration of the anti-racism campaign’s 20th anniversary – has been dedicated to the late Laurie Cunningham, who faced Scotland at the same venue back in 1977.
And in doing so, he became the first black player to earn a cap at any level and score for England, and went on to play for Real Madrid before tragically losing his life in a car accident in 1989.
Regis, one of Cunningham’s West Bromwich Albion team-mates, and former Spurs and England star Crooks were both at the national football centre to tell the group how far the game has come since their playing days and the racism they used to encounter.
With the Under-21s shown video footage of Cunningham in full flow, Regis scoring goals and England’s first black international, Viv Anderson, in action, both of the former internationals spoke of the importance of Kick It Out’s and The FA’s work in eradicating racism and discrimination from the game.
Speaking about the visit, Under-21s and Chelsea midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah told FATV: “It was very inspirational. I think it was good for all of us to sit down and listen to that because it’s not every day that we get see exactly what it was like back in the day with players getting abused and everything like that.
“At the end of the day, football is a great sport and we all just want to have fun and enjoy the game, so it’s good that it’s getting out of the game now.
“Coming from the likes of Garth and Cyrille, it’s very motivational because I’ve been in the situation when I have been abused and it was very hard to deal with.
“But coming from men who have come through it in a very tough time makes me feel better about it, because you’ve got to use it as motivation.”
Goalkeeper Jack Butland was also impressed by the presentation from Kick It Out and added: “I think it was very important for the lads to see that.
“Racism was a very big part of football back then and with the Kick It Out campaign, it’s come a very long way.
“But until you hear it first-hand from the likes of Cyrille and Garth, it’s very difficult to paint a picture of exactly what happened so it really hit home about the scale of the abuse that was given.
“There were a lot of very important messages there in the way that they dealt with it and channelled their aggression into motivation to play well and it was great to hear it from two legends like that.”
And Regis was more than happy to speak to the squad ahead of what is a big year for both Kick It Out and The FA.
He said: “I think history is very important, especially ahead of games like Tuesday’s when Laurie Cunningham became the first black player to play for England and wear the Three Lions.
“That was a very proud moment for him, and for every player, especially the black players who endured so much racial abuse during the 70s.
“For The FA and Kick It Out to get together and dedicate this game to Laurie Cunningham and our struggles against racism is fantastic.”
You can watch footage of the presentation, along with the thoughts of Chalobah, Regis and Butland on FATV in the video player below.