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Monday, November 17, 2008

Butcher 'not over' Maradona goal

Terry Butcher will never forgive Diego Maradona for the infamous "Hand of God" goal that knocked England out of the World Cup 22 years ago.

However, the Scotland assistant coach insists the matter is behind him and he is only concentrating on getting a good result against the new Argentina boss.

"No, I'll never forgive him," admitted George Burley's deputy.

"But it's not about me, it's all about Scotland and playing against one of the best teams in the world."

Butcher was one of the players left in Maradona's wake as he danced through the England ranks to score one of the greatest goals of all time.

Prior to that moment of footballing genius, Maradona, pretending to go for a header, had punched the ball past goalkeeper Peter Shilton on the way to a 2-1 win.

"It's not nice when you lose a World Cup quarter-final under those circumstances," explained Butcher.

"I was selected for the drugs test with Gary Stevens and Kenny Sansom and ended up in the room with Maradona and two of his pals. Our World Cup was over and they were celebrating.

"It could have been a war-zone in there but it wasn't. I wasn't next to him, if I was I might have done something.

"It's very hard to forgive and forget in the circumstances. But it was 22 years ago.

"I think I'm 4-1 to get a red card in the tunnel - it would be the fist of Terry Butcher rather than the hand.

Argentina will be without superstar Lionel Messi but the Scotland squad has been hit by a number of call-offs. However, Butcher remains upbeat.

"We don't want to play second fiddle to the Maradona sideshow," he said. "We want to enjoy the occasion.

"It would mean a hell of a lot to beat Argentina and you learn a lot playing against the best players. If we can compete and do well, it will stand us in good stead.

"It's a privilege but we want to beat them. We're very much the underdogs and Scottish players like to get their sleeves rolled up and get stuck in - the same will apply in Amsterdam in March."

Maradona's appointment came as a surprise, given his lack of coaching experience, but Butcher believes the former Napoli and Barcelona star can take the job in his stride.

"It's not always about coaching ability," he said. "He can be a focal point for players and he will be assisted by very able deputies.

"It doesn't take a lot to organise a team like Argentina; they have a frightening list of players and a frightening list of guys who are not here - it's an incredible football country.

"He can have a galvanising effect since it will be a case of getting instructions from one of the best players to ever play the game."





"I remember coming back in 1986 and moving from Ipswich to Glasgow and I think I saw more Argentina strips in Scotland than I did in Mexico.

"There's the side issue of Maradona coming to Scotland, where he is a hero, but, above all else, this is a fantastic match to look forward to.

"I was lucky enough to play against Argentina in some big games and they are games you remember for the rest of your life."

Maradona begins his stint in charge of Argentina at Hampden and Butcher is expecting a stern test as Scotland use the game to prepare for the World Cup qualifying visit to Holland in March.

"For the best player who played for a country to be the coach of that country, is fantastic for the Argentina players," he said.

"The players do hold him in high regard and it's something special when someone like that is in charge of your country.

"It might work against Scotland, and probably will work against them, on Wednesday.

"The players will be very keen to impress their new boss, their hero, their idol. So I'm sure the players will be pulling out all the stops for him to get into the team for their World Cup qualifiers."

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