‘Blue is my colour, this is my club, it means so much to me’ – Butcher on his new Ipswich Town coaching role
Ipswich Town legend Terry Butcher has spoken of his delight in coming ‘full circle’ by taking on a bespoke role at Playford Road.
The former England skipper, an icon of the Sir Bobby Robson era, has been asked my manager Paul Lambert to help out on a part-time basis at the club's training base. He'll assist with coaching the club's Under-18s and U23s, plus be available as a mentor to members of the first team squad.
"I feel like I've come full circle," enthused Butcher. "I first joined the club in '76, left in '86, moved back to Suffolk in 2014 and I've always remained a fan.
"I spoke to Paul and said that if there was anything I could do to help I would love to do it. He went away and spoke to Lee (O'Neill, general manager of football opertations) and then came back to me with an offer of this tailor made position.
"I can't describe the feeling when I pulled on the badge again for the first time. Blue is my colour, this is my club, it means so much to me, When I drive through the gates, every time it's like 'wow'.
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"I watched the Under-23s game on Monday, I watched the Under-18s on Tuesday and Thursday, the more I see the more I can help. It's felt so good being back on the training field again. I love being up Playford Road, you can feel the vibrancy around the place.
"They've obviously got good coaches up there, and I'm not looking to tread on anyone's toes, but hopefully my knowledge and experience can add to what they are already doing. I'm just delighted to be playing a little part."
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Soon after taking the Town job in November 2018, Lambert invited in a series of Town legends, including Butcher, George Burley, Mick Mills, John Wark, Russell Osman and Matt Holland, to gauge their thoughts on the club's decline.
"There's an open door policy for the older boys at Playford Road now," said Butcher. "It's been made clear to us that we can go in, have lunch and watch training whenever we want. That's nice.
"The club has always been good to the ex-players in making us feel welcome at games, but it wasn't the open invite to the training ground we have now. When Mick (McCarthy) was there we kind of all felt 'let him get on with the job'. We respected what he was doing and didn't want any friction.
"When Paul (Lambert) took over he reached out to us straight away. He's been absolutely first class with us, the rest of his staff too.
"I knew him from before because we'd crossed paths as opposition managers in both Scotland and England. We shouldn't get on really with him being ex Norwich and Celtic! Mind you, we do both have Motherwell as shared history."
After hanging up his boots in 1993, Butcher had spells managing Coventry, Sunderland, Motherwell, Sydney FC, Partick Thistle, Brentford, Inverness, Hibernian and Newport County, his last role in English football back in 2015.
He agreed to become the head coach of the Philippines national side in 2018, but that never got off the ground.
"I signed the deal, but they then wouldn't pay for me to go on a trip around Europe to watch players so there were some alarm bells ringing," he explained.
"Then I went to China for five months last year (as defensive coach for Guangzhou R&F) - that was a great experience. I was in Wuhan from July until early December, came back for Christmas during the off season and then was due to go back again. Then the head coach got sacked so I lost my job too. What a blessing in disguise that turned out to be with the outbreak of the Coronavirus there."
Butcher added: "I've had one or two nibbles and sniffs at jobs in recent years. I'm 61 now, so to work at that age is pretty good. I feel good and feel I have experience to pass on. I enjoy helping people, especially the young players."