The former England captain takes us back to 1990 and tells us 25 years on, why he’s now a key player for Prostate Cancer UK.

Terry Butcher

A quarter of a century has passed since that World Cup but Terry Butcher still talks passionately about Italia 90. For the England squad it was heart-breaking to lose on penalties to West Germany and marked the centre-back’s 77th and final international appearance, but he also considers it the best game he’s ever played.

That dramatic semi-final in Turin was an emotional rollercoaster for Sir Bobby Robson’s England side, not to mention the nation watching desperately at home. After a slow start to the campaign, England had managed to turn things around using a sweeper system against the Netherlands and Egypt, and made it through to the last 16.

Jig of delight

After David Platt’s volley against Belgium prompted Butcher and Chris Waddle to dance a jig of delight, England came back from the brink of the defeat to see off Cameroon by the odd goal in five. Then, on 4th July 1990 they took on West Germany with a place in the final at stake.

Against their old foes, England came out flying in the first 25 minutes, yet failed to covert any chances.

We asked newly-appointed Newport County boss Terry what he would have done in Sir Bobby’s shoes.

“I’d have kept telling the lads to keep doing what they were doing, to keep making the chances,” continued Terry. “When it comes to World Cup semi-finals and finals it should be your time to deliver and if you can, then, you’ve got to go on and win the game.”

”At half-time I remember Bobby telling us, ‘Win this one and you will be immortal.’

- Terry Butcher

”At half-time I remember Bobby telling us, ‘Win this one and you will be immortal.’

Knowing that Argentina had made it to the final with many of their best players ruled out, Terry said it was like a rehearsal for the final itself. There was a belief that whoever won the semi would win the cup.

Into the second half and in the 59th minute a deflected free-kick saw Germany take the lead, but Gary Lineker took the tie into extra time, with a leveller nine minutes from time.

“I think England played possibly the best football in that 90 minutes than they did in the rest of the matches in Italia ’90,” reflected Butcher.

“Looking back at that spell before extra-time, I would say to the boys, ‘look, you know, you’re peaking now, you’re just coming right… let’s do it for each other and make sure we come out on top.’”

After a tension-packed half hour, there was still nothing to spilt the sides. Sadly, we all know what happened. Penalties. A clinical Germany. An emotional England.

Best football

“For the 120 minutes, you’ve more than matched Germany.” Terry sighed. “You’ve answered a lot of questions and you’ve made the country proud because we played the best football I think, in the whole of the World Cup. You can feel proud but at that moment in time you don’t feel proud at all; you feel absolutely gutted.”

Despite the heart-break, Terry recalls the moment the two buses left the stadium, side-by-side. Gazza had found some beers on the bus and the England boys got together to toast their achievements.

“We’d lost the World Cup semi-final and they [the West German team] were looking at us, saying: ‘well they’re crazy because they’ve just lost’.

“We were singing and dancing away. We’d given it everything we possibly could, you’d played the best game of your life and you couldn’t have done anymore. After that you think, well let’s just enjoy ourselves. It was a special time; a special game.”

Terry Butcher (c) completed the London to Amsterdam cycle ride in support of Prostate Cancer UK

Before the former Ipswich Town legend starts his new managerial adventure at Newport County this August, he joined Prostate Cancer UK, the Official Charity Partner of The Football League, and cycled 145 miles from London to Amsterdam, helping over 50 Football League clubs in raising over £305,000 to help beat prostate cancer.

Raise awareness

Along with 250 cyclists from different clubs, Terry conquered Europe and proudly displayed his London to Amsterdam medal at the Amsterdam ArenA. And now he’s keen to get men talking with their mates about a disease that has affected his family.

He said: “A lot of men do suffer from it [prostate cancer] unknowingly until it’s too late. Men don’t think to talk about these things because they think ‘I’ll be alright; I’ll be ok’. That’s why I did this, to raise awareness and make sure that there are more men in Men United than ever before.”

The charity is close to Terry’s heart as his father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. This puts him at higher risk of getting the disease, as are black men.

To join Men United, a 200,000-plus strong movement for everyone who believes men are worth fighting for visit

Watch Terry's Italia 90 brainteaser

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