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Norwich City’s top 100 appearances: Ian Butterworth (25) – The captain that so nearly took the Canaries all the way

Centre-back Ian Butterworth in action for Norwich City. Photo: Archant Library

Centre-back Ian Butterworth in action for Norwich City. Photo: Archant Library

Archant Library

293 appearances/4 goals

As good as it gets - Norwich City's 1992/93 squad, that went on to record the club's highest finish of third in the top flight.As good as it gets - Norwich City's 1992/93 squad, that went on to record the club's highest finish of third in the top flight.

Just seven short of such an impressive landmark, Ian Butterworth can still rattle off why he didn’t make 300.

“There was glandular fever. That was about six months. One other long injury. I definitely could’ve been higher,” said the 53-year-old, now Burnley’s head of European recruitment.

“I remember numbers quite well, and 293 isn’t too bad is it?

“The club was a big part of my career – almost nine seasons – and it really does hold a place in your heart. My children were born there, I had many happy years and I saw a lot of players there.

City's management team of 2009, from left, Ian Butterworth, Bryan Gunn and Ian Crook didn't get to spend too long together. Picture: Steve AdamsCity's management team of 2009, from left, Ian Butterworth, Bryan Gunn and Ian Crook didn't get to spend too long together. Picture: Steve Adams

“It was a stable club, a provincial club that did well for a few years, finished third and possibly if we’d been a bit more ambitious in the transfer market, we might have won the league. That would’ve been astonishing.”

MORE: Ian Butterworth has his say on Norwich City’s change in recruitment direction

Having turned a short 1986 loan from Nottingham Forest into a permanent move, the centre-back was a key figure in helping the Canaries to so many high-points: fourth and third top-flight finishes, two FA Cup semi-finals, City’s only foray into Europe.

“I only played in the top flight with the club and I enjoyed it,” said Butterworth. “There were some good players there and it was as successful period as the club had known. We did our best. We weren’t the greatest of players, but we were decent and we had a good spirit – and we nearly pulled it off in 1993.

“We also qualified for Europe when I first came in but weren’t allowed to compete because of the Heysel disaster. So there were pockets of success and I don’t think the club has had similar success since.”

There were four goals too – and yes there should have been more of those – before injury forced the end of Butterworth’s professional football career in England, at the age of 30.

Follow our journey through Norwich City’s top 100 appearance makers

“You can remember four goals, can’t you?” joked Butterworth. “I wasn’t a great goalscorer – but I did score in front of the Kop at Liverpool (October 1992). I do remember that one.

“I probably should’ve scored a lot more, but it wasn’t in me. However, that one came off a foot and went in the corner!”

Butterworth returned as assistant to Bryan Gunn in 2009 but following the infamous 7-1 opening defeat to Colchester, things soon moved on. He added: “It didn’t really happen for me. In some ways it was a bit daft really, but I wished I’d got a little bit more time. I was probably the right person at the wrong time.”

For the latest Norwich City news and opinion follow Michael Bailey on Twitter @michaeljbailey and Facebook @mbjourno


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