It is always good to see passion in sport but it’s becoming rarer among players, maybe due to the fact that you’re now not allowed to incite any kind of passion in your own or the opposition’s supporters, whether you’ve scored a goal or conceded a penalty. So it was great to see Terry Butcher talking about Diego Maradona with not much less emotion than he felt on June 22, 1986.
Argentina are playing Scotland and it’s a peculiar twist of fate that has seen Maradona take on a team coached by an England hero. It was inevitable that Butcher would be asked how he felt about facing Maradona 22 years on. If you’re an England fan born since the incident, you probably haven’t seen or heard Maradona’s name without it being accompanied by the words ‘Hand of God’. Maradona blatantly cheated by batting the ball past Peter Shilton with his left hand, but he also scored a fantastic goal just five minutes later, which Butcher and his team-mates were powerless to prevent.
The fact Maradona didn’t admit to using his hand when the pair were taking a drugs test after the game seems to have rankled with Butcher almost as much as the crime itself. The former defender has admitted: “If he had come in and said he’s used his hand, maybe I would have just wanted to hit him four times instead of 20.”
Brilliant. There are those who are saying Butcher should have brushed aside the question, but if he still feels that strongly, why not say so. The game still looms large amongst England fans and is still talked about, so to see it still affects someone who played in it to that extent, over two decades on, means there is still a link between players and fans in an age when the gap seems wider than ever.