Terry Butcher has paid tribute to George Burley for taking Scotland to within 90 minutes of a 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ play-off, despite a campaign marred by criticism and bad luck. The relationship between the pair stretches all the way back to their playing days together at Ipswich Town in the 1970s and 1980s, but the former England defender has admitted he has seen Burley in a new light since becoming Scotland coach.
Burley has endured a tumultuous 18-month rein so far, which has included Kris Boyd walking out on the national team, the infamous 'Boozegate' affair, Chris Iwelumo missing a sitter, a whole host of injury problems and less than inspiring results on the pitch. Despite the hurdles, Scotland head into their final qualifier against the Netherlands on Wednesday night still with a chance of securing second place in Group 9 and a play-off place which could prove to be their ticket to 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 assistant coach Butcher. "He is a strong character. I didn't realise how tough the job was but, having seen George in it, he has handled it very well.
"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. But there is no point being in this position and not doing it on Wednesday. We want to make sure we make that final step and the players are determined to do that.
"George has been the same person all the time. He gets animated but never gets down. I've never seen him down. He has always been upbeat and he has certainly inspired me because I plumb the depths when we lose because I'm that sort of person. He is terrific and the whole squad has been terrific as well."