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Scotland v Argentina: Butcher's Beef With Maradona

Chris PotterCorrespondent INovember 18, 2008

Tomorrow night, Fabio Capello will have a chance to cast his eye over some potential new England footballers after injuries continue to affect his preparations for the  to the forefront of the club vs country debate.

This feud, while controversial, is not perhaps as interesting as the build-up to Scotland's friendly against Argentina.   

The game is an important moment for Scotland's players—a chance to see how far they have come in the last few years, and how far they still have to go—as they challenge one of the world's best football teams on their own turf.

Tomorrow night's result will not, however, stand out in the footballing annals in years to come. 

The game will be remembered for the return of an iconic figure that has always divided opinion.

New Argentina coach Diego Maradona's arrival last week worked Scotland up into a frenzy (now that is something I didn't expect to be writing). 

Frank Butcher is not as easily impressed for Maradona's renaissance, no matter how long it lasts, brings back painful memories to the ex-England midfielder.

For it was Maradona's opportune and unsportsmanlike "Hand of God" in England's 1986 World Cup Quarter-Final showdown with Argentina that shattered Butcher's dream of stepping up to possibly lift the most decorated prize in football, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

During the build-up to tomorrow night's game, many Scottish fans have taken to Maradon'a infectious cheek and charm and his brutally straight-talking attitude to the incident which caused so much pain to their southern neighbours.

Terry Butcher has been labelled as narrow-minded and bitter for refusing to forgive and forget and his insistence that he will not shake hands with the Golden Boy of Argentinian football (El Pibe de Oro).

Should Maradona care? Does he care? Clearly not judging from his reaction during today's pre-match press conference. And why should he? He is loved by millions, worshipped no less! 

Cheating and unsportsmanlike behaviour exists in all sports—ball tampering in cricket, blatant fouls in basketball, drug abuse in athletics and cycling. Does this mean we should just accept it as a by-product of ultra-competitiveness, part of the deal? 

Should we forgive, even commend Maradona for his quick thinking and audacity to take fate quite literally into his own hands? 

Should he be lambasted and damned for eternity for an act of dishonesty and dis-respect?

I am inclined to side with Terry Butcher on this matter and feel that he has reason to be aggrieved even to this day...but then I am English.   

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