Terry Butcher receiving his Hall of Fame award at Portman Road from Sir Bobby Robson’s son, Mark.

A resolute and courageous leader on the field, Terry Butcher featured at the heart of defence for a decade at Ipswich Town and England respectively. Occasionally bloodied but never unbowed, the centre-back became a key figure for club and country, combining physicality with mental fortitude to good effect.

Though bred in the coastal town of Lowestoft, Terence Ian Butcher was born overseas in Singapore, owing to his father’s profession as a signalman in the Royal Navy. The family returned to Blighty – more specifically, Suffolk – when Terry was two years old.

East Anglia’s top teams were both keen on a teenage Terry, and while the young centre-half initially went on trial with Norwich City, his heart belonged to fierce rivals Ipswich Town. He turned down another opportunity to impress the Canaries, instead signing on with the Tractor Boys for £50 (“a huge amount of money for a 17-year-old”, he told FourFourTwo).

Butcher quickly rose through the ranks at Ipswich, making his debut against Everton at the age of just 19. He formed a formidable partnership with Russell Osman at the heart of Bobby Robson’s back four, becoming a firm fixture in a side that finished sixth and third in consecutive seasons.

Arguably, his moment of glory in a blue shirt came not at Portman Road, but at Müngersdorfer Stadion. Travelling to Germany for the second leg of their UEFA Cup semi-final against Koln, Town held the narrowest of advantages over the opposition. With the game on a knife edge, Butcher ensured Ipswich’s passage to the final with a powerful header from 13 yards out; the most important of his 21 goals in the blue shirt.

Butcher with National Football Museum Chief Executive Tim Desmond during his induction at Portman Road.

Butcher played the full ninety of both legs of the final, keeping a clean sheet in Ipswich’s 3-0 victory over AZ, before closing out the tie two weeks later in the Netherlands. It was Butcher’s first and only honour in England; though a force under the management of Robson, they would finish as First Division runners-up in both 1981 and 1982. Terry did, however, enjoy success over the border at Glasgow Rangers, where the skipper led his new side to three titles in four seasons, as well as two Scottish League Cups.

The defender’s 6ft 4in frame, aerial prowess and penchant for a strong challenge did not go unnoticed by international selectors. Within two years of his Ipswich debut, Butcher found himself in the England squad for a friendly against Australia. It would prove to be the start of a ten-year international career with the Three Lions, encompassing 77 games and no fewer than three World Cups.

He was the youngest member of Ron Greenwood’s back four at the 1982 World Cup. With the 23-year-old at the heart of defence, England conceded just one goal in their opening three group games, before keeping another two clean sheets in the second group phase. Though England progressed further in 1986, their run was halted by the respective genius and devilry of Diego Maradona; Butcher was one of the men beaten by the diminutive Argentinian en route to scoring the ‘Goal of the Century’.

However, the enduring image of Terry Butcher is one of blood, sweat and bandages. During a crucial World Cup qualifier against Sweden, a first-half clash of heads with Johnny Ekstrom left Butcher with an open head wound. The physiotherapist’s impromptu stitches did not hold for the full ninety, resulting in the now-iconic image of Butcher, white shirt drenched in his own blood, heading away ball after ball with almost reckless abandon.

England got a point in Stockholm that night, and went on to qualify for the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Butcher has missed Euro ’88, having sustained a broken leg whilst playing for Rangers. Butcher was a typically vocal and commanding presence in the dressing room and on the field. He started two of the three group games, and was restored to the side as captain for the knockout stages, owing to Bryan Robson’s injury woes.

He retired from international duty after the tournament, having led England to a World Cup semi-final, and combined playing with managerial duties at Coventry City and Sunderland, before hanging up his boots in 1993.

Principal English club: Ipswich Town

Honours: 1 UEFA Cup

Caps: 77 (3 goals)

Inducted: 2021

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