In this Edition of The Talking Game, we have Hibernian manager and former England captain Mr. Terry Butcher speaking to us, about his career with Ipswich Town, Three Lions’ chances in the upcoming World Cup in Brazil and more.
Terry Butcher enjoyed a wonderfully successful career with Ipswich Town and later Scottish club Rangers and is regarded as one of the best English defenders of his generation. He was part of one of the most iconic images in football as he ended England’s vital qualifier against Sweden in 1989, soaked in his own blood after suffering a head injury at the start.
After retiring from the game he went on to manage the likes of Coventry City, Motherwell and Inverness, before being appointed as the manager of Hibernian in November last year. We caught up with the 55-year-old Englishman as he talked about his career with Ipswich Town, his England career and the national team’s chances in the upcoming World Cup in Brazil.
Q: Tell us something about your Childhood and your journey from Singapore to Lowestoft
Terry Butcher: My father was in the Royal Navy and was commissioned in Singapore. However I moved back to the UK when I was only two years old and eventually ended up in Lowestoft, Suffolk. My father became a Prison Officer and I graduated to the local Grammar School.
Q: How big an influence was your father, who we believe was also an Ipswich Town fan, during your early career as a footballer and your decision to reject Norwich City?
Terry Butcher: My father, Leonard, was a big influence on my football career and he drove me everywhere to train and play. He was a football fan and admired any team that played the game the right way. In 1976 I had a trial at Norwich City but as an avid Ipswich Town fan, I could not possibly contemplate signing for the enemy so I went to Portman Road for another four week trial, and signed after three weeks.
Q: Tell us something about winning the UEFA Cup with Ipswich Town back in 1981 and that epic final with AZ. How were the nerves when Jos Jonker scored in the 73rd minute of the match in the second leg?
Terry Butcher: Winning the UEFA Cup in 1981 was terrific but, on reflection, it was the third choice of silverware in what was a momentous season. Runners up in the title race and beaten semi finalists in the FA Cup were huge disappointments but the eventual triumph in Amsterdam just about made up for losing the other two trophies. After the first leg and with a three goal advantage, we expected the second leg to be a formality but the Dutch side played a 2-4-4 system that gave us problems all the match. However, we held firm to win and to make the campaign a very worthwhile one.
Q: You experienced a wonderful career with the England national team – was captaining England in the 1990 World Cup semi-final the most memorable moment of your international career? Tell us something about the match against Germany which you lost over penalties?
Terry Butcher: I was very lucky to play for my country and consider every appearance as something special. I did not captain England many times but to be the only living Englishman to do so in a semi final makes me extremely proud. To follow in Bobby Moore’s footsteps is to tread the path of a true legend.
The match itself was a delight too and we played with a real confidence and belief. However, it was not to be our night and we also knew that whoever won our game would beat Argentina in the final because of their injuries and suspensions. It was the highlight of my career and my wife, Rita, son Christopher and my parents were all in the crowd to cheer me on in Turin.
Q: Do you still hold grudge against Maradona for scoring that “hand of god” goal or ponder of over the genius of the man who scored what has been dubbed as the goal of the century?
Terry Butcher: I do not want to discuss the Maradona goal in the quarter final as it still rankles with me now. It was disappointing coming from such a brilliant player.
Q: One of the most iconic images is of course that of yours during the England’s vital qualifier against Sweden in 1989, when you were soaked in blood by the end of the match after suffering a head injury at the start. Of course you wouldn’t have been allowed to continue on the football pitch in similar fashion with the new laws in place in today’s world. Do you feel football has gone a bit “soft” these days with players faking injuries in every matches and going down easily at every opportunity?
Terry Butcher: My only regret about the injury sustained in Sweden was that I did not have the image rights to the subsequent pictures of me covered in blood! If I did then I would now be extremely rich and living the life of a wealthy recluse!
As I was the captain I felt I had a duty to carry on and did nothing out of the ordinary, in my opinion, by doing so. Nowadays the game has really gone too soft and the amount of diving and simulation is appalling. However, we only have ourselves to blame as there could have been a stand taken at the beginning of the Premier League in 1992 as more continentals came into the new league.
England in World Cup
Q: Could Roy Hodgson look to emulate the Liverpool formula that has worked so well in the national team set up? The Liverpool front six consists of four English players, the roles of Luis Suarez and Coutinho can be transferred to Wayne Rooney and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain/Lallana.
Terry Butcher: I am sure that Roy Hodgson will incorporate a great number of Liverpool players into his World Cup squad as the Merseyside club has had a marvelous season. England will attempt to play an adventurous style but with control and discipline. Sterling should play as should Sturridge, as pace will be vital throughout the tournament, and Gerrard’s new role as the sitting midfielder will probably rule out Carrick starting.
Q: Roy Hodgson has of course ruled out the possibility of John Terry’s return to the England side, but looking at the league form and his partnership with Cahill, should Hodgson look to persuade the Chelsea defender to come back from his retirement?
Terry Butcher: Hodgson has also confirmed that Terry will not be going to Brazil but England’s best central partnership is Jagielka and Cahill anyway. This is a World Cup for younger players in my opinion, as the team needs to be constructed not for this tournament but for the one in Russia, with the Euros helping to weed out the elderly and the average.
Q: England’s world cup group consists of the likes of Italy and Suarez led Uruguay, would qualifying for the knock out rounds count as success?
Terry Butcher: If England does qualify from the group, I would be extremely pleased as there are two teams, Uruguay and Italy, that will cause the Three Lions numerous problems. Even Costa Rica have some talented individuals so progress into the next round would be a good, solid effort.
Q: Who would be your dark horse to make it to the England squad? Has Ross Barkley done enough, assuming the likes of Lallana, Sterling and Oxlade-Chamberlain are definitely on the plane?
Terry Butcher: I would think of the future, as I have previously stated, and take Ross Barkley. Young, talented and quick footballers are the key to any success, internationally and domestically. In this case, I would also include Luke Shaw of Southampton. Lallana and Oxlade-Chamberlain would be in too.
Q: What do you think is the best midfield combination for England at the moment? Do you think Michael Carrick will find a place in the starting eleven ahead of Gerrard and Wilshere (if he recovers in time)? Also what do you feel about Frank Lampard’s role in the side?
Terry Butcher: I don’t think Carrick will go as I said before, as the best midfield three would be Gerrard, Wilshere and Lallana. Maybe Rooney will play in behind Sturridge and allow Wilshere and Gerrard to sweep in front of the back four, but the wider men should be Sterling and Welbeck now that Townsend is injured. A back four of Johnson, Jagielka, Cahill and Baines in front of Joe Hart should make up the starting eleven. It’s very young but that is the reason to blood a lot of these youngsters in preparation for the next two tournaments, as we realistically have no chance of winning this year.
Q: Who according to you is the favourite to win the World Cup this year?
Terry Butcher: My tip for the World Cup is a South American country; either the hosts or Argentina, with possibly Chile to finish third. It should be one of the best to see and the quality of football should also be high.