Goal.com are counting down England's greatest players of all time and at number 50 is a former captain, blood-drenched battler Terry Butcher...
No.49 - Tony Currie
77 caps, 3 goals
Ipswich Town, Rangers, Coventry City, Sunderland, Clydebank
The fact that Terence Ian Butcher is not held in the very highest esteem in all quarters can perhaps be attributed to the fact that he was born in Singapore, speaks his mind, and is now involved in the Scotland coaching set-up. That's too easy, however, for Butcher is a conundrum who cannot be summed up in such simple terms.
The man who late last year reopened a rift with Diego Maradona, more than 20 years after a controversial incident, was picking his battles at an early age, refusing to join Norwich City's youth team to sign with his father's beloved Ipswich Town, the Canaries' bitter rivals.
Growing up in Suffolk, the rivalry was ingrained into his brain from the off, and he rode The Tractor Boys all the way to England stardom.
A burly 6'4" centre-back who was able to dominate in the air, due both to his physical attributes and his fearless mentality, Butcher made his club debut in 1976 and rose to prominence quickly. Established as a club starter, he was handed his first England cap in a friendly against Australia by Ron Greenwood in 1980.
Bleeding England To Italia '90
Still, Butcher was about to become one of the most storied defenders of the '80s, quickly taking another step up by featuring at the '82 World Cup in Spain. Although the squad's youngest at 24, Butcher played in four of England's five games as the side conceded just once. Their attack let them down, however, and they failed to make the knock-out stage.
Former Ipswich gaffer Bobby Robson stepped into the England hot-seat after Spain. He would show complete faith in Butcher, who four years later would play a central role in one of the most memorable English World Cup campaigns ever. The European Championships should have been wedged in between in '84, but England failed to qualify.
At Mexico '86, Butcher held the Three Lions together after Bryan Robson was injured, and his replacement Ray Wilkins sent off. On the brink of elimination and under the kosh in the scorching Mexican heat, England held out for a 0-0 draw with Morocco, and won their next game against Poland to progress.
A now-potent front-line then made light work of Paraguay to set up an infamous quarter-final show-down with Argentina – a Clasico intensified by the Falklands War. Maradona downed the English with the 'Hand of God', and then arguably one of the greatest goals in history. Last November, Butcher refused to "forgive and forget" the former, and many feel that he should have hacked down the maestro as he surged through to score the latter.
BEST USER COMMENT
"the picture with him soaked in blood is a symbol of determination and endurance. I feel he was the kind of player that never stopped running for the ball. Spectacular!" - Tarek Kreidie | Saudi
Perhaps these could be considered low points, yet Butcher is nevertheless associated with this slice of footballing folklore for all eternity. In any case, there were far more highs and lows still to come for the stopper.
Post-Mexico, Butcher moved to Rangers, becoming the cornerstone around which Graeme Souness sparked an Ibrox 'revolution'. The Glasgow side upped the ante by landing Butcher, who scored a league-winning goal at Aberdeen in his first season - the Gers' first title in nine years.
Internationally, England had high hopes for the 1988 European Championships, but Butcher broke his leg and his country flopped again, while Celtic also wrestled the Scottish title back in his absence.However, he returned to spark two more title wins for Rangers, in '89 and '90, also winning the League Cup twice during his time in Scotland. Although Butcher had laid the foundation for the arrival of more English players at Ibrox, he eventually fell out with boss Souness and departed.
At this point, England were heading for the 1990 World Cup in Italy, but qualifying had been something of a chore and threw up the famous picture of a wild-eyed Butcher, white shirt drenched in blood. He'd suffered a deep cut to his forehead early on in Sweden, and the hasty stitches and bandages didn't hold for long. As he helped his side attain the point they needed to go to the finals, his wound eventually bled out, making Butcher an icon.
England made it to the semi-finals in Italy, eliminated by subsequent winners West Germany. Butcher had played at the heart of a 3-5-2, assuming the captaincy after Robson was crocked. Another piece of Butcher folklore occurred after a second round win over Belgium, when he was seen dancing jubilantly with Chris Waddle in front of the England fans.
After the tournament, Butcher retired from international football, also becoming player-manager of Coventry City. He's currently managing Inverness Caledonian Thistle and is a Scotland assistant, having had a somewhat up-and-down managerial career to this point.
Terry Butcher will nevertheless always be associated with the English spirit.
UEFA Cup Winners (1980-81)
Football League Runners-up (1980-81, 1981-82)
Scottish League Championship winners (1986-87, 1988-89, 1989-90)
Scottish League Cup winners (1986-87, 1988-89)
DID YOU KNOW ... That an unimpressed Butcher has been one of former Three Lions skipper David Beckham's fiercest critics in recent years.
Greg Ptolomey, Goal.com
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