Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Butt's Redemption Is Now Complete

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Butt's Redemption Is Now Complete

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Gilder

From scapegoat to skipper, the total turnaround in Nicky Butt's career at St James's Park has been remarkable, as Chief Sports writer Paul Gilder reports

The deliberations were drawn out and the decision difficult as Glenn Roeder spent several weeks contemplating who among his players would be best equipped to succeed the recently retired Alan Shearer as Newcastle's next captain.

As those outside the club attempted to second guess the United boss last summer, Nicky Butt's name did not feature even as the longest shot.

The reason was obvious. This was a player whose days appeared numbered and whose departure seemed imminent. Seven months ago, the midfielder was not expected to represent the club again, let alone captain it.

Having upset Gallowgate sensitivities during an ill-fated FA Cup semi-final in Cardiff in 2005, Butt was sent on loan to Birmingham for the subsequent season and, had Steve Bruce's side not been relegated, there he would have stayed.

When Roeder welcomed him back to the North-East last summer, supporters with long memories made their feelings clear. Butt was booed during the pre-season fixture in which he made his first appearance back at St James's Park. The former England schemer might have disputed that the fixture against Villarreal was one of a friendly nature. His welcome could not have been more hostile.

Roeder made two interesting statements in the immediate aftermath ( that he would not let those who barracked Butt force the player out of the club and that Newcastle's supporters are amongst the most-forgiving in football.

Having proved good to his word on the first front, the 51-year-old has been proved correct on the second.

Redemption was complete in Belgium last night when Butt captained United for the first time. With Scott Parker and Shay Given both injured, the 32-year-old was the obvious choice to wear the armband. Among the 650 Newcastle fans at the Jules Otten Stadion, there were no dissenters. …

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