CALUM Butcher will make his 100th appearance for Dundee United when he takes to the field at Ibrox tomorrow afternoon for the Premiership match against Rangers.

But reaching the significant milestone has been far from straightforward for the English midfielder; the 29-year-old has experienced many lows and myriad setbacks during his professional career.

From being released by Spurs as a kid, to moving to Denmark to get a game, to falling out of favour and love with football at Mansfield Town, to dropping into the sixth tier down south to play for Billericay Town, he has been through a lot.

The National:

It is little wonder, then, that he has endeavoured to be encouraging and supportive to the youngsters who are coming through at Tannadice during this coronavirus-disrupted season.

Yet, Butcher has never forgotten how helpful Jermain Defoe, the Rangers striker who he could find himself up against tomorrow afternoon, was to him when he was at White Hart Lane.

“When I started training with the first team, Jermain was there,” he said. “He has had an incredible career, but I always remember how good he was with the young guys.

READ MORE: Steven Gerrard confirms Rangers could look to sign right back if James Tavernier is ruled out long-term

“He would always take time out to put an arm around the young lads and tell them to express themselves as much as they could.

“It can be difficult when you step out to train or play with the first team. But he was always one of the good ones who would try to help you.” 

Butcher added: “When you go out to train with a team like Tottenham you have that nervousness. But it makes a big difference when you have guys like that trying to help you out. 

“I’m now the same at United. Whenever any young lads come into the team I try to help them. They are trying to find their way and you want to help them in any way possible. Given the world as it is then it is even more important this season.

“We have a lot of young, talented players training with us every day. We have all been there so I will try to help them as much as possible. There is no need to be any different.”

The National:

Butcher certainly knows what awaits them in the years to come and how difficult it will be for them to succeed in what can be a cutthroat business.

"You have to find that grit within you,” he said. “People are going to say you are not good enough and ask questions of you. They can have their opinions but you have to really believe in yourself, have that grit and stick in there as long as you can.

“You need the lucky breaks, but you make your own luck. It's definitely something over the years I've found has been great for me is having that determination, which I've been lucky enough to have from a young age, that's definitely helped me out through my career.

READ MORE: Steven Gerrard: I'd be in an early casket if Scottish football had VAR and Rangers defended like that

"When I left Tottenham that was a tough stage in my career because I didn't have a club for a few months and I had to eventually go over to Denmark to restart my career.

“Even recently, when I was at Mansfield. I hated my time at Mansfield. I didn't get along with the manager and I ended up going to Billericay just to purely to get back home with the kids because I was doing too much travelling. That was a low point and I totally fell out of love with football in my Mansfield spell.

“When I came back here, that's why I enjoyed it so  much because I just fell in love with my football again. The club was good to me and it just clicked and I am really grateful to be here and make my 100th appearance and hopefully I can make a lot more."

The National: