At the start of the season, Jack Butland wouldn’t have even dreamed of being on the plane to Poland-Ukraine as a part of England 23-man squad for the Euros. But nine months later, and an unfortunate injury to Norwick keeper John Ruddy, means that the 19-year-old Birmingham keeper has been called into Roy Hodgson’s team, taking the youngster straight into the big time.
Who is Jack Butland?
The question is a very good one. We haven’t seen Butland play in the Premier League or the Championship or even in the League One for that matter. Even the fans of Birmingham City, his employers, have only seen him in their reserves or the under-18s. But ask the people of Cheltenham and they will have nothing but praise after praise, for the young keeper who made 24 appearances for them during his two loan spells at the club this season.
Yes, surprised? Cheltenham Town, who play in the nPower League Two is the only club for which Butland has played first team football. At six feet four inches, Butland is a commanding presence in the box and an athletic, agile shot stopper, and he has made full use of his stature to keep eleven clean sheets this season and has conceded just 26 goals. He has been one of the reasons for Cheltenham’s success this season which has seen them qualify for the League 2 playoff final against Crewe at Wembley on Sunday.
Butland joined the Birmingham Academy in 2007, but hasn’t played a single game for the Blues till date. The best he could get was a place on the bench during the recent Championship playoffs. Despite having yet to make single appearances for the first team, the young keeper already won ‘Young Player of the Season’ award at St Andrews in May 2010, for his performance with the Reserves and England U-17s.
He has been involved with England setup since 2008, when he made his debut for the Under-16s against Northern Ireland and kept a clean sheet as the Three Lions won 6-0. Since then, Butland has represented the Three Lions at every age group and was a key member of the U-17 squad that won the European Championship in Liechtenstein in May 2010. He was later called up for the Under-20s for the 2010 Under-20 World Cup in Colombia. He kept three clean sheets during the tournament and conceded just one goal against Nigeria, which in the end led to England’s downfall as they later failed to score.
His performances did not go unnoticed and he was later called up for the England Under-21s by boss Stuart Pearce. Butland made his debut in the 6-0 win over over Azerbaijan Under-21s in a Euro 2013 qualifier, and has since gone on to make a total of six appearances before being called-up as a replacement for John Ruddy in the senior team yesterday.
Who has been the man behind Butland’s success?
Butland is a youngster with massive potential and could be one of the stars in the future, but much of that credit must be given to Birmingham City’s and current England goalkeeping coach David Watson. Watson, who made 178 appearances as a keeper for Barnsley, has been the key to not only Butland’s success, but also has enhanced the careers of former England keeper Ben Foster and the current number one Joe Hart during their times at St. Andrews. And in Butland, it looks like he has moulded another potential world-class shot-stopper for the Three Lions in the future.
What are his chances of playing at the Euro 2012?
To be quite honest the chances of him playing for England at Euros are zero. Joe Hart is England’s number one choice keeper and Robert Green will be his backup in case Hart suffers an injury, hope it doesn’t happen. So, Butland will only get a chance to play if both Hart and Green are suspended or injured and that looks highly unlikely. But expect to see a lot of him in the future, maybe during the friendlies after the Euros or during the qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup or the 2016 Euros.
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