TERRY BUTCHER, the former England football captain, and his family have been “hit hard” by the death of his son Christopher, an Army veteran said to have struggled to cope after tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The 35-year-old had served with the Royal Artillery and his father had spoken about how he was “not in a good way” after fighting the Taliban.
His death was announced on Facebook by Christopher’s brother, Edward, who described him as his “hero” and the “best brother”. It led to a raft of tributes from his friends and fellow soldiers who described him as a “true gentleman” and a “great leader”.
Captain Butcher, who was married, died on Monday morning but the circumstances remain unclear.
His brother, 31, wrote: “It is with the utmost sadness that I regret to say that my brother Christopher Butcher has passed away this morning. My older brother was the best brother I can ever have asked for and his death has hit the entire family hard.”
He said in the messages, posted from Bawdsey, near Ipswich, where his parents have a retirement home, that the family were “together” and details of the funeral would be released in due course, adding: “We know how greatly he was loved.” He later posted: “Chris, you were my hero, you were my best friend and you were someone I would throw myself in the way of a truck for!
“This is for you and thank you for everything you ever taught me and I will miss you for the rest of my life but you will never be forgotten!” Captain Butcher, known as Butch, joined the Army in 2006 and was sent to Iraq later that year. He served a second tour in Afghanistan in 2009 before moving to Germany, then leaving the service in 2015.
On his Facebook page, he described himself as “now just a moody bitter vet”. His father, who won 77 caps in a 10-year international career, had previously spoken of how proud he was of his eldest son but also how he has struggled to cope.
Before being overcome by emotion, Mr Butcher said in a 2014 interview: “Unfortunately, Chris is not in a good way right now. When he told me about going into that compound in Afghanistan, feeling the bullets pinging off his helmet, well…”
The former Ipswich and Rangers player has been married to Rita for 37 years and they also have a younger son Ali. Mr Butcher, who famously played in a 1989 game against Sweden with a bloodied head and shirt, was said to be “distraught”. He said yesterday that it was “all still very fresh”.
‘My older brother was the best brother I can ever have asked for and his death has hit the entire family hard’
Those who served alongside Captain Butcher said that
he would be “sorely missed” while the 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, in which he served, held a moment’s reflection for him yesterday.
Chass Lateo wrote: “This is so very very sad indeed – Herrick 10 sits high in a lot of our memories, but I always remember the cheeky, chirpy and cheerful Chris (a most courageous hero that I had the pleasure of serving alongside).
“The life and soul of any party. A lovely man; RIP my friend … see you at the Final Gun Position. My sincere condolences to all the family; such sadness.”
Mike Rigby described him as “a funny, larger than life officer”, adding: “A pleasure to serve alongside you, Butch.”
Lindsay Coulthard wrote: “A great young officer, leader and gentleman. RIP.”
Harry Wright, who had also served in the Royal Artillery and had met Mr Butcher Snr, added: “Sadly, few people realise what Chris went through, and no matter how strong you are, it does affect you.”
Christopher Butcher as a baby in 1982, being held by his footballer father