Scotland owe everything to Burley's spirit, says Butcher

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The Independent Football

The relationship between Scotland manager George Burley and his assistant Terry Butcher is a long and fond one stretching back to their playing days together at Ipswich in the 1970s and 1980s. But of late, Butcher has seen a side of his friend and colleague that has led him to respect him all the more.

In a World Cup qualifying campaign that has been characterised by criticism, bad luck and dodgy decisions, the former Rangers and England centre-half believes it is Burley's optimism and determination that have put Scotland within 90 minutes of a play-off spot.

Burley has endured a tumultuous 18-month reign which – in addition to injury problems and some insipid displays – has seen striker Kris Boyd walk out on the side and the "Boozegate" scandal lead to life bans for goalkeeper Allan McGregor and former captain Barry Ferguson.

Despite these hurdles, Scotland head into their final qualifier against the Dutch tomorrow night with a chance of a play-off place, which could lead to a spot in South Africa next summer. "I played in the same team as George and he broke my cheekbone many years ago so I know how determined he is," said Butcher. "He is a strong character... He is the most positive man I've ever met. I think everybody has responded to the positivity and belief and spirit that he has.

"No one would have withstood the hullabaloo and everything else that has gone with the job but he has focused on one thing. To get into this position considering all that is quite remarkable."