This war­rior gives blood, sweat and tears...

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Chris Dunlavy

BLOOD- spat­tered , gog­gle-eyed, gurn­ing at the cam­era. Ask an Eng­land fan to pic­ture Terry Butcher and they’ll all con­jure that one in­deli­ble im­age.

And, on the pitch at least, noth­ing could be more fit­ting. “That said ev­ery­thing you need to know about Terry,” said Paul Parker, a team-mate at the 1990 World Cup in Italy. “Of all the great play­ers I played with, he was the one I ad­mired most. He was with­out doubt the most pa­tri­otic per­son I have ever played along­side. His bat­tle cry was ‘Come on lads, we’re caged tigers’. Bel­lowed at full blast, he had the ca­pac­ity to lift us all. He was brave, he was strong. He was our tal­is­man and great leader.”

Butcher’s pa­tri­o­tism is the stuff of leg­end; over the course of 77 caps and three World Cups, few play­ers in history can have grasped so fully what it meant to rep­re­sent Eng­land. The big cen­tre­back wore that re­spon- sibil­ity on his sleeve, giv­ing tears, sweat and – most fa­mously – blood for the cause.

That night, a World Cup qual­i­fier in Stock­holm, Butcher had mis­judged a header and con­nected full tilt with a Swedish skull. The re­sult­ing gash re­quired seven stitches at half-time, yet Butcher kept leap­ing, kept head­ing. By the end, his white shirt was stained pink but Eng­land were through.


“I’d never have walked off,” said Butcher, who at one point was re­ceiv­ing weekly re­quests for signed photos of his claretsmeared mug. “And Bobby Rob­son knew that if he’d have taken me off I’d have killed him. I was al­ways go­ing to bat­tle on.”

No­body knew Butcher like Rob­son. Butcher had grown up watch­ing Ip­swich and, in 1976, re­jected a trial with Nor­wich to join Rob­son’s Trac­tor Boys.

He made his de­but two years later and – af­ter win­ning the UEFA Cup and re­cov­er­ing from a bizarre nose in­jury that re­quired 19 pints of blood – be­came that great side’s de facto leader, the player Rob­son re­ferred to as his ‘Big man’.

“When Terry was psyched up for a game, he was un­shake­able,” said Rob­son.“Yer big, thick, stupid, one-footed. I could call him any­thing at all, shout and scream and yell at the fella. Wa­ter off a duck’s back. Never bat­ted an eye­lid. Didn’t seem to no­tice.”

This al­most manic fo­cus is a fea­ture all team-mates re­call, first at Ip­swich then at Rangers – where he won three Scot­tish ti­tles – Coven­try and Sun­der­land.

Whether it was the heavy me­tal in his head­phones, the tub-thump­ing speeches or sim­ply bang­ing his head against the dress­ing room wall, Butcher’s pre-game rou­tine was ag­gres­sive and fren­zied.

“His pas­sion was fan­tas­tic,” re­calls Phil Thompson, Butcher’s cen­tre-half part­ner for Eng­land in the early 80s. “Go­ing out onto the pitch with him gave you the belief that you were go­ing into bat­tle and I loved that.”

Thompson de­scribes Butcher as “a kicker” yet he was no dumb lunk. Analysing Eng­land’s per- for­mance against Hol­land in 1990, Brian Clough com­pared Eng­land’s cen­tre-halves un­favourably to their ball-play­ing Dutch coun­ter­parts.

“With the ex­cep­tion of Butcher,” he said. “Our back play­ers were al­ways happy to turn it back to him. He can drop it in or hit the long ball. He can go left to right. He might not bring it out from the back, but in terms of play­ing it out, he’s our best.”


Alex Fer­gu­son was equally im­pressed, of­fer­ing Rangers £1m for Butcher in 1987, only for a bro­ken leg to prompt the Scot to sign Steve Bruce in­stead.

The wild-eyed nut­ter on match­day also con­trasted sharply with the thought­ful, in­tel­li­gent char­ac­ter he cut the rest of the time.

This is a man who once started an in­ter­view by ask­ing the jour­nal­ist which artist he would like to be, then ex­pounded the qual­i­ties of Turner’s seascapes. Who, dur­ing Italia ’90, dreamt up an elab­o­rate wind-up in which he and Chris Wad­dle wore ev­ery item of cloth­ing back to front, then ate their meal in re­verse, start­ing with dessert.

“I’m a psy­cho­an­a­lyst’s dream,” Butcher told The Scots­man in Fe­bru­ary last year.“Off the pitch I was al­ways an or­di­nary, mild-man­nered bloke. But it was tin hats and fixed bay­o­nets the mo­ment I pulled on a football shirt.”

This side of Butcher’s char­ac­ter saw him stride ef­fort­lessly into pun­ditry, where his forth­right views (on Eng­land, nat­u­rally) so ir­ri­tated David Beck­ham that he lam­basted the for­mer Three Lions skip­per live on TV.

“I was slaugh­tered when I played for Eng­land,” replied Butcher, who kept a press cut­ting den­i­grat­ing his abil­ity as a book­mark. “It didn’t do me any harm.”

Yet man­age­ment – much of it in Scot­land – has proved more mixed. Five years at Mother­well, where he nur­tured a group of promis­ing young play­ers and led them to cup fi­nals and the top six of the Scot­tish Premier League, were pros­per­ous. At Coven­try, Sun­der­land, Brent­ford and Syd­ney, he was even­tu­ally sacked.

Pro­mo­tion to the SPL in 2010 came in the first of four suc­cess­ful years with In­ver­ness; a sub­se­quent move to Hiber­nian in 2013 was an un­mit­i­gated dis­as­ter, end­ing in the sack af­ter rel­e­ga­tion to the Scot­tish Cham­pi­onship amid open dress­ing room war­fare.

Yet if there’s one thing Butcher – who, iron­i­cally, also spent time as as­sis­tant man­ager of Scot­land – can be cer­tain of, it is re­spect.

“When Terry talks, play­ers lis­ten,” said for­mer Scot­tish in­ter­na­tional Billy Dodds. “His achieve­ments guar­an­tee that. And with all his ex­pe­ri­ences in the game, they’d be daft not to.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

FRESH CHAL­LENGE: Terry Butcher has taken the reins at League Two out­fit New­port County

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