Football: Hard Work Just Starting - Butt; Nicky Butt Knows a Thing or Two about Success at a Young Age but, as He Told Luke Edwards, He's Still Very Much Young at Heart Himself - Even at 31

The Journal (Newcastle, England), January 17, 2007 | Go to article overview

Football: Hard Work Just Starting - Butt; Nicky Butt Knows a Thing or Two about Success at a Young Age but, as He Told Luke Edwards, He's Still Very Much Young at Heart Himself - Even at 31


Byline: Luke Edwards

WITH a look of smug self-satisfaction, Alan Hansen leaned back in his chair in the BBC's Match of the Day studio and, with a short, sharp sentence, dismissed Manchester United's title chances.

The year was 1995. The Red Devils, with a team filled with young talent in David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Gary and Phil Neville, as well as Nicky Butt, had just lost their opening game of the season at Aston Villa. Hansen said: "You'll never win anything with kids."

Nine months later and those same kids had walked off with the Premiership title. Hansen has been wiping the egg off his face ever since.

It is a memory Butt will one day reflect on with pride, a season which launched him and his former youth squad team-mates on the path to almost a decade of domestic dominance at Old Trafford which brought seven Premiership titles and two FA Cups, as well as a European Cup in 1999.

But, for now, Butt has more important things to consider .

Having rediscovered his form and rebuilt his reputation at Newcastle United this season, the former England international is playing in the same position as he did in his glory days at Manchester United, although he occupies a different role in the team.

At 31, Butt says he still likes to think of himself as young and, in the wider sense, he is still a long way from the retirement home. But, as a footballer, the Salford-born midfielder knows he is entering the twilight of his career and the days when he can hark back to those magnificent trophy-winning days.

"I'll be 32 this week but in football you still think of yourself as a youngster," said Butt, who has been an unexpected driving force behind Newcastle's recovery from a dreadful start to the season. "You don't think of yourself as the old one, although I am now.

"I mix well with the lads who are 18, 19 and I still think of myself as a youngster, But time flies really quickly. I'm not at stage where I reflect on my career at the moment, because I don't want to stop playing.

"I still think I've got a few years left in me as a player, hopefully at Newcastle. You only start to reflect on your career when it has gone."

Nevertheless, while Butt is reluctant to reflect too deeply on the success of his time at Manchester United, he has found it impossible not to reminisce given the similarities he has seen with how he begun his Premiership career and the situation faced by Newcastle United's youngsters this season. …

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