Throughout a ten-year international career that encompassed 77 caps and three FIFA World Cups™, Terry Butcher was considered by many England fans to epitomise everything they held dear about the Three Lions.
The famous image of his bandaged head and blood-soaked shirt certainly remains among the most iconic in English football history, and undoubtedly cemented his status among the supporters. That, indeed, is one of the memorable moments on which the 49-year-old looked back in this exclusive interview with FIFA.com, which also includes recollections of that Diego Maradona goal at Mexico 1986 and an explanation of why he has taken up a coaching post with England's Auld Enemy.
Butcher enjoyed a thoroughly distinguished club career, leading Bobby Robson's Ipswich Town to new heights before inspiring Rangers to a period of domestic dominance. It was, however, in the international arena that the uncompromising centre-half came to prominence, first as the youngest member of England's back four at Spain 1982, then during Mexico's memorable football fiesta four years later.
Yet for all that Butcher strengthened his burgeoning reputation at these tournaments, he is acutely aware that the contribution for which he is most remembered is as a hapless and reluctant supporting actor in one of the game's greatest-ever goals during the '86 quarter-final.
"I knew at that moment I was in the presence of greatness," he recalled. "Maradona actually beat me twice on that run and although I was devastated at the time, I took some consolation that this wasn't an ordinary player. I always hoped for a re-match against him though."
Butcher very nearly got his wish four years later in Italy, when England came within a whisker of facing the Albiceleste in the final only to fall in familiar fashion, going down on penalties to the Germans in their captain's final international appearance. "I played in three World Cups as a player and each one was better than the last," Butcher enthused. "Italy '90 was the pinnacle for me. The biggest disappointment was not getting the chance to face Argentina again, and I'm sure we would have beaten them as they were a lot weaker than in '86. We all felt that semi-final against Germany was the real final."
The Germans went on to confirm this belief in Argentina's waning powers, yet while there were plenty of 'what ifs' for England, there was also an appreciation that they might never have reached the finals had it not been for Butcher's role in securing an all-important qualifying draw in Sweden. Certainly, it was the images of the big defender, swathed in bloody bandages, his white shirt stained red, inspiring those around him, that forever endeared Butcher to a nation's hearts.
He smiled: "At that stage, there was no such thing as image rights in football, which is a pity - because the photo of me at the end of that match would have made me a fortune! I was described as brave, but any real Englishman would have played on. I actually played with a broken fibula for three games without realising, so a head knock wasn't exactly a big deal..."
When Butcher retired from international football after Italy 1990 and left Rangers to become player-manager at Coventry City, he was immediately singled out as a future England coach. Remarkably, however, after an eventful and turbulent club career in charge of Coventry, Sunderland, Motherwell, Sydney FC and Brentford, this former England captain will be attempting to reach his fourth FIFA World Cup with Scotland, as second in command to former Ipswich team-mate George Burley.
"It's amazing really, I would never have expected it," he said of crossing the divide in football's oldest rivalry. "But I've spent so many years here in Scotland, even after my career finished, and I really do love the place. I'm proud to have this job and, if anything, I see it as a chance to pay back some of the kindness and hospitality I've been shown since coming here in '86. The task is to take Scotland to the World Cup and I can see that there's a spirit and ability within this group that gives us a real chance."
Clubs (player): Ipswich Town (1976-1986), Rangers (1986-1990), Coventry City (1990-92), Sunderland (1992-93)
Clubs (coach): Coventry City (1990-92), Sunderland (1993), Motherwell (2002-06), Sydney FC (2006-07), Brentford (2007)
Caps: 77 (1980-1990)
Honours: 3 Scottish Premier League titles (1987, 1989, 1990), 2 Scottish League Cups (1987, 1989)
Have Your Say
What are your memories of Butcher and the three FIFA World Cups in which he played? Share them by clicking 'Add your comment' below.