Terry Butcher: Reward for all the blood, sweat and tears

Terry Butcher's body is finally succumbing. During the World Cup finals in June, the former England captain will be lying in a hospital bed recovering from surgery on his right knee. The left has already been replaced. He played as though his limbs were simply tools at his disposal, so the frailty does not disconcert him. After all, Butcher remains defined by images of valour.

There was a time when, every few weeks, his mail would contain requests to sign the photograph of him with a bandage wrapped around his head and blood splattered across his England jersey. It is a picture that captures the essential fearlessness of his approach to defending. He carries an almost manic look as he leaves the field after a 0-0 draw with Sweden in 1989, when he received seven stitches to a cut above his left eye at the interval, and 13 at full-time.

He remains an iconic figure, even if there is less personal inclination to dwell on his past. It was 20 years ago that Butcher led England to the World Cup semi-finals, and a film is being made based on Pete Davies's book All Played Out, which tells the inside story of the journey of Sir Bobby Robson's side to a penalty shoot-out defeat by West Germany.

Butcher is a more complex individual than he was when his world was divided into those who were with England and those who were against. He was a fundamental influence, a staunch, passionate captain. He used to listen to heavy metal music before games; every match was an opportunity to express his patriotism. His feelings are more nuanced now.

He remains an England supporter, but has spent 19 of his 51 years living north of the border and was Scotland's assistant manager under George Burley for 22 months. He works now in Inverness, where he has just led Inverness Caledonian Thistle back up to the Scottish Premier League. He should be a conspicuous figure but Scotland has mostly come to consider him something of a native.

"I get it from Maurice Malpas [his assistant manager] every day," says Butcher. "He has 55 caps for Scotland and he slaughters me every day for being English. We have a few English boys in the squad, so there's great banter in training. But I love it here. It's not really a football city. It's very quiet. You can drive from one side of Inverness to the other in 10 minutes unless it's rush hour, when it takes 11 minutes."

The humour has become typical of Butcher. He often responds to victory or defeat by referring to how many glasses of red wine he will have in the evening. After filming an advert for Mars, he received a box of the chocolate bars at the club but said the players wouldn't open them because the wrappers bore an England crest.

The England team matters to Butcher but in a detached way. He admires Fabio Capello but is uncertain of the impact England can make in South Africa. Twenty years on from Italia 90, he is not convinced that Robson's team can be emulated, let alone bettered. "England have an outside chance at best," he says. "There's nobody apart from Wayne Rooney who catches your eye and who's playing particularly well. If teams are going to stop Rooney, the spark is going to have to come from somewhere else."

His mind is on frivolities. Inverness are celebrating and are only the second club since Hibernian in 1999 to bounce straight back from relegation. The triumph is collaborative, but it is Butcher's first trophy as a manager and so it seems intensified to him.

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 SPL, were prosperous. At Coventry, Sunderland, Brentford and Sydney, he was eventually sacked. Adversity has always provoked the best from him. When a newspaper columnist wrote that he wasn't good enough to play for England, he cut out the article and used it as a bookmark.

"In the good times, you tend to forget about all the bad things that have happened," he says. "I made mistakes. We brought a number of players here who needed a second chance and they responded. It's a beautiful place, friendly, and once you're here, you want to stay."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker