A WORCESTER author and journalist will be among the mourners at a memorial event next week for his friend Cyrille Regis.

When Chris Green watched the striker score twice on his West Bromwich Albion debut in a League Cup clash with Rotherham in September 1997, he could never have known he would go on to become a good friend, and end up co-writing Regis’s autobiography.

The world of football has been paying tribute to the former West Bromwich Albion and Coventry striker, who died suddenly at the age of 59 last week.

Mr Green said: "I heard the news he had died on the radio that morning. I was in complete shock - it was completely out of the blue."

Mr Green said Regis was his "football hero" growing up, when he watched him as a lynchpin of the famous three degrees trio along with Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson. The three Albion footballers were credited with inspiring a generation of black professional players in the UK, after facing horrific racist abuse from the stands.

"There were hundreds of monkey chants, and throwing bananas," Mr Green said.

"But Regis didn't react - he put it back into his performances.

"He had a one-in-three match scoring record, he used to say he never went five games without scoring. And he scored spectacular goals. He played with freedom, the three degrees were entertainers. There was a glass ceiling and someone had to break it."

After becoming a journalist Mr Green met Regis for a radio documentary, and after becoming good friends they kept in touch.

After Regis was awarded a MBE in 2008, Mr Green suggested writing the book, 'My Story - The Autobiography of the First Black Icon of British Football', which proved a massive success and is now completely sold out.

"I couldn't believe no one had written it," the 58-year-old said.

"Cyrille was a role model. He was born in a wooden shack in French Guiana - it was tough upbringing for him.

"When I was writing it I was concious it was going to be a special book."

Mr Green said many people locally will remember him fondly, after being involved in the Midland Junior Premier League.

"I got him involved, and he became a president for the league.

"The league was about helping footballers who were rejected by premier league academies. He was the perfect president for it."

Mr Green said he is expecting a massive turnout for Regis' memorial event being held at The Hawthorns from 11am on January 30, after a family funeral.

"I loved the time I spent with him," Mr Green said.

"The outpouring of respect for him has been unprecedented. It has taken his death to see how special he was to everyone."