Former England captain Terry Butcher has saluted “perfect” manager Gareth Southgate as he attempts to end the nation’s 55-year wait for international glory.
Southgate will send his side into a Euro 2020 final battle with Italy at Wembley on Sunday evening aiming to emerge with the trophy for the first time and climb on to the pedestal which has been gathering dust since World Cup winner Sir Alf Ramsey scaled it in 1966.
Butcher, one of several generations of England players who came close, but not close enough, to writing themselves into the country’s sporting history during the intervening period, is convinced the current team could not have a better man at the helm.
Speaking as he lent his support to a Well Pharmacy campaign to tackle social anxiety in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the former central defender told the PA news agency: “If you’re looking for role models, he’s perfect; if you’re looking for how to be a manager, he’s perfect.
“I hope someone does a documentary on Gareth. Someone should do it now and say, ‘Right, this is how you should lead teams, this is the identikit of the modern football manager, whether it be at club level or international manager, this is it’ because he does everything right.
“He ticks all the boxes. He makes light of a lot of criticism if he gets that, he continues, he has a belief, he’s very determined, he’s very driven, he’s very good with players, man-management, he’s very hard when he has to be.
“I just think it’s absolutely first-class, it really is. He’s at the top of his game at the top of the tree and I like him, I really do. He’s everybody’s ideal manager.”
Butcher captained England to one of their near misses as they went out of the 1990 World Cup after a heart-breaking semi-final penalty shoot-out defeat by West Germany under Sir Bobby Robson, and he is hoping what Southgate’s team has achieved to date – they made it to the last four in Russia three years ago – represents a platform for further growth whatever happens this weekend.
He said: “That’s really important for Gareth to continue his good work and make England serial finalists, make England serial winners if that’s possible.
“This is a start, this is a really good start and it would be great to go on and get it. It would mean a lot to the English public if that happens because it’s just been too long, far too long, and there have been far too many heartaches along the way, far too many.
“It would be nice to have a bit of glory.”
To achieve their dream, however, England will have to find a way past Italian war horses Giorgio Chiellini, 36, and the 34-year-old Leonardo Bonucci, and Butcher, who himself liked nothing better than a battle, knows that will be easier said than done against Roberto Mancini’s men.
They are like the bouncers of the team. They are the ones who deny entry to a lot of strikers, 'You're not coming in here, pal'.Former England captain Terry Butcher
He said: “They make me laugh. They seem to have been around for ever.
“They are like the bouncers of the team. They are the ones who deny entry to a lot of strikers, ‘You’re not coming in here, pal’.
“When you look a them, they look Roman, don’t they? You can just imagine them with a shield and a gladius just ready to die for their country, and that’s what they do.”
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