World Cup: Leon Wobschall - Terry Butcher is the example to follow against Swedes

WINSTON CHURCHILL once famously stated that he had nothing to offer '˜but blood, toil, tears and sweat' when he warned the British people of the hardships to come during World War Two.

Hero: England's bloodied defender Terry Butcher celebrates after the 1990 goalless draw against Sweden. Picture: Getty Images

In its own way, those sacrifices have similarly been on tap on the footballing field of combat over the years between old foes England and Sweden.

Churchill’s words will chime with many Three Lions managers of yore when talk turns to the Swedes. Not to mention the present incumbent – especially on today of all days.

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Few can predict with any certainty what will transpire in the stifling heat of Samara and just who will prevail in the most heavy-duty meeting between both nations.

If history is anything to go by, expect today’s quarter-final occasion to be tight, tough and unrelenting. It will be hard to call and firmly in the balance from minute one to the moment that the shrill of Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers’s whistle calls time.

By and large, it is the steadfast Swedish who have refused to blink and their proud team’s bull-headed reputation for refusing to quit against those in England red or white precedes them.

England may have triumphed for the first time in eight competitive meetings against the Swedes in their pair’s last joust in Euro 2012, but it does not paint the full picture. Far from it.

It is a largely tale of Swedish obstinacy. Attempt to knock them down and they come back again with interest. Just two defeats in 15 meetings in all competitions since March, 1968 is stark numerical proof of that.

England took the lead against the Scandinavians at the World Cups in 2006 and 2002 and were pegged back, with former Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Niclas Alexandersson netting the equaliser in the latter meeting – a 1-1 draw at Saitama in June, 2002.

An early strike from David Platt also famously gave the English first blood against the host nation in Euro 1992, only for goals from Jan Eriksson and Tomas Brolin to turn the tables.

The Swedes may be universally renowned for their egalitarian and kind nature, but no free lunches are given away on the football field. Certainly not against the English.

Should England require an extra pre-match motivation today in their quest to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time in 28 years, then it might just be provided by the imposing sight of a lion-hearted figure likely to be on radio duty in Samara this afternoon.

Terry Butcher’s international service with England was the story of sentinel-like defensive duty and an iron will and never was that better exemplified than on one mad night in Stockholm in a World Cup qualifier in September, 1989.

Butcher suffered a deep head wound that required 13 stitches and would have forced lesser mortals to bow to the inevitable and leave the stage.

As most of a certain age can recount, the game ended in England heralding a new sporting hero.

“Give him the VC,” cried the Daily Mirror back page headline, with a bandaged Butcher – his white shirt barely recognisable and caked in blood – not to be moved, with his arms aloft in triumph after playing his part in his country claiming the point they needed to qualify for the 1990 World Cup finals in Italy.

The image was iconic and ‘went viral’ across the world, in modern-day parlance.

The words that Butcher uttered afterwards to a team-mate also possessed similar captivating power – and are just as prescient today as the present-day England seek to achieve their cherished goal on an occasion which is likely to be far from straightforward against strong opponents.

Butcher was asked by Paul Gascoigne if he was okay after his sickening injury in combat against the Swedes. To which the defender unequivocally replied, with more than a hint of incredulity at being asked: “This is England. This is my house and no f***er comes into my house and takes anything.”

Industrial language, yes. But a message unlikely to be lost in translation, either. Clear, succinct sentiments and quite apt in the circumstances.

A similar trait of bloody-mindedness from those in Three Lions’ jerseys might just come in handy later today on a colossal occasion that has the potential to be long, laborious and fraught in equal measure.

But glorious, too, in the final analysis.