Terry Butcher tears into England, asking ‘where are the leaders?’

Råsunda Stadion, Solna, Sweden, 6th of September, 1989 - Captain Terry Butcher, heart of the defence

Råsunda Stadion, Solna, Sweden, 6th of September, 1989 - Captain Terry Butcher, heart of the defence that held the opposition scoreless in the six qualifying matches for the 1990 World Cup finals, plays on despite a bloody head wound in the goalless draw against Sweden, EADT 2 09 04 EADT 20 11 04 EADT 8 09 05

Terry Butcher has torn into the England team about a lack of leadership and says the shamed players should apologise to the nation’s long-suffering football fans.

England goalkeeper Joe Hart (left), Gary Cahill (bottom) and Dele Alli show their dejection after de

England goalkeeper Joe Hart (left), Gary Cahill (bottom) and Dele Alli show their dejection after defeat to Iceland. - Credit: PA

The Three Lions exited Euro 2016 with a whimper on Monday night courtesy of a humiliating 2-1 defeat to Iceland in the last 16, manager Roy Hodgson immediately quitting his post as ‘50 years of hurt’ shows no sign of ending anytime soon.

Lionhearted Ipswich Town legend Butcher played in three major tournaments, is as patriotic as they come and will always been remembered for finishing a World Cup qualifier against Sweden covered in blood back in 1989 as he fought tooth and nail for the cause.

“I’ve been trying to forget about it, but I can’t,” he said. “I ignored my phone for days because I didn’t want to talk about it. I’ve been in mourning, walking around with the black armband on. That’s how much it means to me and that’s how much it should mean to the players. I’m not sure it does though.”

He continued: “It was arguably – no, definitely – the worst England performance in my lifetime.

Former Ipswich Town and England captain Terry Butcher

Former Ipswich Town and England captain Terry Butcher

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“If I had played in that I’d have been absolutely ashamed and would come out and apologise straight away. I haven’t seen any of these players do that though. They owe the country a big debt for that performance.

“As far as I’m concerned the players should take all of the blame. The manager has fallen on his sword because he’s an honourable guy with a lot of dignity and class. He’ll have prepared and motivated them, but they buckled severely under pressure.”

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Butcher played at the ’82, ’86 and ’90 World Cups and won 77 caps – seven of them as captain – over a 10 year period.

“There are no leaders, no characters,” he blasted. “Wayne Rooney is the closest thing we’ve got to a leader, then I suppose it’s Joe Hart. That speaks volumes.

“In truth, there have been no real leaders in the England team for some time. In my day we were all leaders. You either led or you didn’t exist. We had Stuart Pearce, (Chris) Waddle, (Glenn) Hoddle, (Mark) Wright, (Gary) Lineker, (Peter) Beardsley, (Tony) Adams – all players who would take responsibility when you got into difficult situations.

“All the leaders have gone. There is no talk and communication off the pitch or on it. No-one drives the team on.

“The Germans, the Italians and the French – they have tournament mentality and we don’t.

“We need to breed English players with strong back bones, strong mental strength and that bulldog spirit which has disappeared. People talk about technique and skill, but first and foremost we need to get that spirit back.

“It ashames me to admit that countries like Italy are mentally stronger and physically tougher than us, by a long way. That was never the case.”

He added: “I think we need a manager with tournament experience now, maybe someone like a Guus Hiddink who can groom a young Englishman as his number two. Or maybe it needs a Sam Allardyce, someone who always gets the best out of players? I’ve got no idea.

“We went close in ’82, ’86, ’90 and ’96 and I think a little bit more luck would have seen us go the other way as a nation. Instead, the longer it has gone without getting to a final, the less confidence we have going into major tournaments. It’s a vicious cycle.

“Spain were in a similar situation for years and got out of it spectacularly, but I just don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel for us. We are well short of pushing to the next level at present. Fifty years without a trophy is a long time, that’s a big historical vacuum.”

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