KEVIN RATCLIFFE reckons signing Cyrille Regis was one of the best moves he made in football management.

The world of football mourned the death of the 59-year-old striker and ex-Chester boss Ratcliffe, who signed him up in 1995 and also grappled against Regis in his playing days, said the former West Brom and Coventry centre forward will be missed by everybody.

“He was a lovely man, a true gentleman and a great footballer,” said Ratcliffe. “You know when people give tributes about someone whose died, they always say good things.

“And that’s all you can say about Cyrille – good things. I don’t think anyone would have a bad word to say about him.”

Ratcliffe – in his first full season as Blues boss at the Deva – revealed how he convinced Regis – then 37 years old – to sign for Chester.

“He was playing for Wycombe and I rang Martin O’Neill, who was manager there at the time and asked him if he was going to keep Cyrille on,” said Ratcliffe.

“Martin said he didn’t know so I asked him when he did make his mind up, could I be the first to know.

“Martin was good to his word and called me to say he was letting Cyrille go so I rang Cyrille straight away.

“How did you know he said. I’ve only just been told myself.”

Ratcliffe and Regis, who had clashed as players in top flight first division football during their Everton and West Brom days, met up to hammer out a deal.

“He wasn’t on a grand a game. Nowhere near that!” said Ratcliffe dispelling the rumours of the deal to lure Regis to Chester.

“I told him about training and that I didn’t want him in every day and to just  look after himself and he agreed.

“He was brilliant but so down to earth. He still called me gaffer and I was younger than him!

“He was great for Chester and John Murphy learnt so much off Cyrille and so did a lot of players. Most of all the fans loved him too.

“I’d take him off a few minutes before each game and he’d get a standing ovation every time. Remember that one at Orient where virtually everyone got off their feet to applaud him off the pitch.”

Ratcliffe was also quick to applaud Regis’ work off the pitch as pioneer for young black players coming into the game and for his ability on it.

“I played against him a lot and I’ve got a piece of a tooth missing because of Cyrille,” added Ratcliffe. “He never gave a centre half a free header. But he was good on the ball, fast and he could score goals.

“He’s going to be one helluva miss for everyone that knew him.”