Christian Burgess paid an emotional tribute to ‘pioneer’ Cyrille Regis.
The Pompey defender is mourning the loss of his agent who died suddenly from a heart attack on January 14, aged 59.
Regis has been a major influence on the 26-year-old’s career, guiding and advising him since he turned professional.
Burgess stood with his Pompey team-mates to pay their respects to the striker with a minute’s applause before Saturday’s meeting at Rotherham.
That proved a poignant moment which was echoed up and down the country over the weekend.
Regis was universally regarded as a trailblazer, as he became one of the first black players to make a big impact on the game.
He made his mark with the likes of West Brom, Coventry and Wolves and was the third black player to represent England.
Burgess admitted the loss of a key footballing influence pained him.
But the outpouring of love and respect for the legendary figure lifted the Blues defender’s spirits.
He said: ‘Cyrille’s been my agent since I became a professional, so it’s terribly sad and very sudden.
‘It’s been hard for me and very upsetting but it does make it better to see what he meant to everyone and the legacy he has left.
‘It’s heart-warming and very emotional to see just what he means to everyone and all the tributes to him.
‘You can see what a massive figure he was in the game and it was an honour to have known him.
‘It was a lovely tribute and I was really pleased they did a minute’s applause up and down the country. It was the least he deserved.
‘We had an important relationship. It’s hard to take and it can be a hard life sometimes. It’s terribly sad for his family. He meant so much to everyone.
‘He was a pioneer. The abuse he faced and the way he handled it shows that.
‘The term legend does get bandied around but he was that – and a true gentleman as well.’
The tributes for Regis have come from far and wide, with many of the game’s biggest names talking of how he influenced them.
Burgess explained that was certainly the case for him, with the man who won the FA Cup with Coventry in 1987 representing him since he became a professional with Middlesbrough in 2013.
He added: ‘The fact no-one has a bad thing to say about Cyrille tells you a lot.
‘I haven’t seen one bad thing written about him or on social media. I really feel honoured to have known him.
‘He’s been a big influence on me. He’s given me loads of input and advice since I’ve become a professional.
‘He has looked after me throughout my whole career. I’m very humbled to have known him and the world will be a worse place with him not around.’