Nicky Butt: In The Life Of

nicky butt

Let’s be brutally honest; Nicky Butt is not the first name that pops up in our mind when somebody brings up the Class of 92. The fabled Manchester United team of the mid-90s has become an overall football icon for their incredible success. 

Nicky Butt was an indispensable player of that legendary squad. However, he is not the one who gets the most of the limelight. 

We wanted to change that. In today’s piece, we will shed light on the immensely successful career of this industrious midfielder. Perhaps, he lacked charisma, but his love, dedication, and contribution to the club remain unquestionable.

Nicky Butt: Career Overview

The lifespan of Nicky Butt’s professional career as a footballer lasted 18 years. It all started in 1993 when he signed his first professional contract at Manchester United. 

Subsequently, he spent 12 summers of his life at Old Trafford. Within this time, he had won the Premier League six times and lifted the UEFA Champions League trophy once.

Moreover, he had the honor to win an Intercontinental Cup, three FA Cups, and four Community Shields during his stay at the club.  In 2004, he moved North East and joined Newcastle United.

Butt was a Newcastle player for six seasons between 2004 and 2010. During his stint with the Magpies, he had also spent a season on loan at Birmingham City. 

Before wrapping up his career, he joined Hong Kong First Division club South China in 2010 and won the league with them. He retired from football after that season.

The Manchester native had represented his country 39 times. He had played for the Three Lions in the 2002 World Cup. That was the only major international tournament he had played wearing the England shirt. 

Nicky Butt: Manchester United  

Born and bred in Manchester (Gorton, Manchester), it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that Butt’s admiration for Manchester United was not solely for professional reasons. 

Butt grew up as an avid Manchester United fan. After enrolling in the club’s academy, all he had dreamt about is to play at the highest level of club football wearing the classic red shirt. 

His dream came true when he made his Premier League debut for Manchester United in 1992. In the following year, he became a permanent member of the senior squad.

He did manage to catch the eyes of Sir Alex Ferguson in his early days. Nonetheless, he had to wait till 1994/95 for his first big break to come. Meaning, he had to wait patiently for two years to get regular football.

Up until that point, Butt was a filler option for club captain Roy Keane. He would have only gotten the nod if the Irishman was suspended, injured, or rested. 

In the 1994/95 season, Butt was one of the busiest players in the Red Devils squad. He featured in 35 games in total and started in the FA Cup final against Everton.

What made Butt a mainstay in the United starting XI is the departure of Paul Ince to Inter Milan in the summer transfer window of 1995. He became Roy Keane’s permanent deputy in the Man United midfield. 

Nicky Butt: Fergie’s Fledglings

As I had mentioned earlier, Butt was part of one of the most exciting batch of footballers in football history. He had come up through the ranks with some of Premier League’s most celebrated footballers. 

David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Gary & Phil Nevile were all Butt’s teammate in the United youth setup. The group came to prominence after winning the FA Youth Cup in 1992.

All of these players were slowly integrated into the main team squad. Besides the Class of 92, the media also used to call the group as Fergie’s Fledglings. 

Each of the members of the group had spent a decade or more at the club. They led the club to numerous trophies during their stay. It was Fergie’s Fledglings, who consolidated the club’s dominance during SAF’s reign.

Nicky Butt’s Role in Manchester United

After becoming a first eleven regular, Nicky Butt continuously put in remarkable performances on the pitch. Beside’s being a commanding presence in the midfield, he also used to come up with crucial goals.

For example, we can talk about the goal he had scored against Liverpool in Eric Cantona’s comeback match following the notorious Selhurst Park kick incident. 

Or, we could recall the time when his persistence made someone as calm and composed as Nigel Winterburn into conceding an own goal. The blunder earned United their first win in four league games.

Butt was the henchman you would need in the middle of the park to win the midfield battles. His excellent ball recovery skills in 1997/98 made him an ideal substitute for Keane, who was out injured.

He was so good at playing the holding midfielder role that United barely felt the absence of their spirited captain. He even made into the PFA Team of Year 1997/98.

However, Paul Scholes and Roy Keane became the go-to midfield pairing for Manchester United in the subsequent years. But, Butt would still put in convincing shifts, whenever he was called upon.

Nicky Butt was far more than a ball winner. He would bridge the defense and midfield. In doing so, he played a key role in channelling the ball forward. 

He had all the attributes you would look for in a modern number 8. 

Nicky Butt Manchester United Treble Season

Nicky Butt & Ryan Giggs Treble Winners
Nicky Butt & Ryan Giggs Treble Winners

Manchester United made history in 1999. They became the first English to complete the treble. Meaning, they had won the Premier League, the FA Cup, and the Champions League in the same season.

1998/99 was Butt’s fifth season at Manchester United. He had shown his mettle in the previous season but faced competition for a spot as Roy Keane and Paul Scholes were also in contention. 

Butt’s primary task in the field was to restrain the creativity of the source of the opposition’s attack. In the Champions League final at Camp Nou, he demonstrated how good he is at doing that job.

Stefan Effenberg was the most flamboyant attacker of the Bayern Munich side that had played Man United that day. However, he remained mostly ineffective as Butt marked him diligently. 

Remember Fergie Time? Under Ferguson, United developed a knack for scoring late goals to snatch away crucial points. They cultivated this trait in the 1998/99 season.

Nicky Butt had scored a memorable late goal that seen. United was playing fierce rivals Leeds United at home with the scored tied 2-2. The visitors were moments away from taking a point back home denting their nemesis’s title ambitions on the process. 

With the clock running late, Butt had collected the ball on the edge of the penalty area. He had a brief shooting window and he took it. Leeds custodian Paul Robinson could do little to stop that.

The goal had sent a shockwave of joy around the Old Trafford. Butt had just saved them from dropping points. Furthermore, he had won the bragging rights for United against one of their arch-enemies. 

Nicky Butt Newcastle United

Frustrated with limited game time, Butt had bitten the bullet and submitted a transfer request in January 2004. However, he stayed at the club for a few more months and moved to Newcastle in the summer.

Bobby Robson had to shell out £2.5m to bring Butt at the St.James Park. Butt came in to fill the boots of Gary Speed, who had joined Bolton Wanderers.

Unfortunately, Butt didn’t have the ideal start to this new stage of his career. An injury-ravaged season saw him barely play for the Magpies. This prompted then Newcastle manager Graeme Souness to make another signing. 

Falling Out With Fans and Birmingham Exile

The arrival of Amdy Faye in the January transfer window made Butt’s situation even more complicated. The 30-year-old had to compete against the Senegal international to make it into the first XI.

Things took a turn for the worst when Newcastle faced Butt’s old team Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final. After the 4-1 humiliation, Butt was booed by the Newcastle crowd. 

With Emre and Scott Park arriving in the summer of 2005, Butt’s first-team football ambitions took a further hit. He then accepted a loan move to Birmingham City, a club he had refused to move to earlier. 

At Birmingham, Butt reunited with one of his former Man United colleagues Steve Bruce. However, controversy continued to shadow him, despite the change of scenery. 

Butt refused to play under Bruce when he discovered that Bruce was prioritizing his own son Alex Bruce in the squad over him. He was fined wages worth two weeks for that incident. 

Return to Newcastle United  

Butt returned to Newcastle in 2006. Scoring a brace against Villareal in a friendly game, served as a kind of reconciliation with the St. James Park crowd. 

He had offers to play under former teammate Roy Keane’s Sunderland, but Newcastle kept hold of him because of his good form and the Black and White’s midfield options. 

With his improved performances, Butt became a regular starter for Newcastle in 2006/07. He even led the team out of the tunnel in Newcastle’s UEFA Cup encounter with Zulte Waregem. 

In 2007/08, Butt signed a new contract with Newcastle. He had patched things up with the fans and established himself as one of the club’s best players. 

Newcastle got relegated in 2008/09. But, Nicky Butt was one of the stand out performers for the Tyneside club. As a reward, he was handed the captain’s armband for the following season. 

2009/10 was the first season out of top-flight football in Butt’s career. Butt was an intermittent presence in the starting XI that season. However, he did play well when he got the chance.

Newcastle ended that season as the Championship champion. This got them a seat back at the Premier League.

However, Butt announced that he won’t be a part of Newcastle’s returning season in the Premier League. He had announced to retire.

But, he did break retirement to play for South China in 2010. He finally locked up his boots on the shelf after the conclusion of that season. 

Nicky Butt Net Worth

Nicky Butt has found his calling as a coach after retirement. He is back in his childhood club Manchester United. Currently, he is the head of first-team development at the club. In more precise words, he is the reserve team coach at Man United.

Nicky Butt co-owns League Tow club Salford City FC. His former teammates Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Phil Neville, and Garry Neville also has stakes at the club. Together, they won 10% of the club and the rest belongs to Peter Lim, a businessman from Singapore. estimates Nicky Butt’s current net worth at $18m.

Final Say

Nicky Butt might feel himself to be unlucky as he had to contest with some of the best Premier League midfielders of all time during his Manchester United career.

But, the midfielder had showcased his capability whenever he got the opportunity. In spite of his limited playing time, he proved himself to be one of the top players within his niche.

Pele had famously picked out the Englishman as a future Ballon d’Or winner after the 2002 World Cup. Unfortunately, that prediction never came to fruition.

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