Cyrille Regis' widow has described her late husband as a "role model" and "a very precious treasure" after his death at the age of 59.
Team-mates and others from the world of football and beyond paid tribute to the former West Brom and Coventry striker, who blazed a trail for black footballers in Britain.
His wife Julia said in a statement: "Cyrille and I were soulmates. He was the perfect man for me and we had a wonderful life together. He was a beautiful man and a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle.
"Losing him has turned my whole world upside down, it is a void that will never be filled.
"I have been moved by the many messages of support and condolences I have received and the kind things people have said about Cyrille as a person and a professional.
"He came into football the hard way and never lost his passion for the game. He was a role model for so many because he always treated everyone he met with kindness and respect.
"The world has lost a very precious treasure."
Regis is survived by his wife, who he married in 2006, his children from his first marriage Robert and Michelle, and his grandchildren Jayda, Renee and Riley.
Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor later paid his own tribute to one of the modern game's pioneers.
Taylor said in a statement on the PFA's official website, www.pfa.com: "Cyrille was a true legend and great pioneer for equality, a former PFA Young Player of The Year and real gentleman who will be sadly missed by all who knew him.
"Our thoughts are with his family and many friends at this sad time."
Born in French Guiana, Regis moved to west London with his family as a five-year-old and came late to professional football after being spotted as a teenager by non-league Molesey.
West Brom put their faith in him when they paid B£5,000 to take him to the Hawthorns in May 1977, and it was richly rewarded as he scored 112 goals in 297 appearances for the club before moving to Coventry in a B£250,000 switch in 1984.
Current Baggies chairman John Williams said in a statement on the club's official website, www.wba.co.uk: "Everyone will have their precious memories of him as a family man, as a crusader against bigotry - which can never be underestimated - and as a man who threw considerable energy into a series of worthy causes.
"But for me, I will never forget Cyrille the footballer - a wonderful, wonderful player who had everything and who defenders of the time would have hated facing.
"He will be deeply missed. Rest in peace, Cyrille."
Regis was a member of the Sky Blues team which famously lifted the FA Cup in 1987, earning himself a place in the folklore of another club.
The club said in statement on their official website, www.ccfc.co.uk: "Coventry City Football Club is deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the death of former striker and FA Cup winning hero Cyrille Regis.
"Cyrille was a true Sky Blues legend, a strong, powerful striker and gentleman."
Regis played his football in an era when racism was rife, paving the way for future generations along with Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson at West Brom and becoming just the third black player to win a full England cap - the first of five - when he lined up against Northern Ireland in February 1982.
He did so having been sent a bullet through the post, a chilling indictment of the climate in which he built his career.
Football Association chairman Greg Clarke said: "Cyrille will not only be remembered across the West Midlands and England for his goalscoring exploits, but as someone who broke new ground and paved the way for a generation of young black players in this country during the 70s and 80s.
"He will be sadly missed and our thoughts are with his family, friends and fans at this difficult time."
Regis, who became an MBE in 2008, had spells at Aston Villa, Wolves, Wycombe and Chester as his playing career drew to a close and after spending four years on the coaching staff at the Hawthorns, worked as a football agent until his death.