Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Butcher made his debut for Ipswich in 1978 and went on to become a lynchpin at the back for eight seasons, combining leadership with great aerial ability and amazing courage. This was soon noticed by England manager Ron Greenwood who gave him his debut against Australia in 1980.
In 1981, Butcher was part of the Ipswich team which won the UEFA Cup and came close to their first League title for 19 years, though they were pipped at the post by Aston Villa. The following year, Butcher was the youngest member of the back four which featured at the World Cup in Spain.
He remained England's first choice centre back for the rest of the decade, playing in the 1986 World Cup, infamously trying to tackle Diego Maradona with some desperation as the Argentina skipper slotted in his wondrous second goal in the quarter-final, which England lost 2-1.
In the same year, Butcher left Ipswich when they were relegated, and became one of the first 'English invasion' players to join Rangers. As captain, he led them to three League titles in four seasons, plus two League Cups, though they failed to win honours in Europe. In 1987 he suffered a broken leg.
The injury meant that Butcher was not in the England side which was torn apart in all three group games at the 1988 European Championship, and his absence proved crucial as Robson was forced to rely on an inexperienced defensive partnership of Tony Adams and Mark Wright. Then, in 1989, while playing for England in a vital World Cup qualifier in Sweden, Butcher suffered a deep cut to his forehead early in the game which would have prompted most players to be withdrawn from play for urgent medical attention.
Butcher, however, had some impromptu stitches inserted by the physiotherapist and, swathed in bandages, continued playing. His constant heading of the ball - unavoidable when playing in the centre of defence - disintegrated the bandages and reopened the cut to the extent that his white England shirt was entirely red by the end of the game. This match remains his defining moment as one of England's great footballing heroes, especially as England got the draw they needed to qualify for the 1990 competition.
England made the semi-finals in 1990 with Butcher at the helm of a slightly more cautious back five (Butcher with Wright and Des Walker in the centre, plus full backs Stuart Pearce and - initially - Gary Stevens, later Paul Parker); he also took over the captaincy after an injury ended Bryan Robson's tournament prematurely. A memorable image of the contest was of Butcher and team-mate Chris Waddle dancing with triumph in front of the England supporters after beating Belgium in the second round. A photograph of this was later placed on a T-shirt range under the heading 'Let's All Have A Disco'.
After the World Cup, Butcher quit international football with 77 caps and three goals to his name. He also quit Rangers later the same year and became player-manager of Coventry City, an appointment which proved short-lived.
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