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Butt his usual solid self as Neuer's stand-in

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Butt his usual solid self as Neuer's stand-in

Postby FCBayernNews » Fri Dec 09, 2011 7:20 pm

Jupp Heynckes is well known in the footballing world as a true gentleman. It was therefore no surprise that the 66-year-old handed a clutch of squad players a chance of match practice in the prestige but meaningless final Champions League group stage fixture away to Manchester City. "It was a reward for their commitment in training," the coach said, aware of the quality in the squad from the first to the last man.

One of the most reliable and consistent of the squad players is Hans-Jörg Butt, the oldest player at the club and a veteran of the game. The 37-year-old stood in for Manuel Neuer on Wednesday evening, and gave another fully convincing demonstration of his continuing talent and skill. Especially at the end of the first half, the seasoned shot-stopper saved his side from a worse deficit on several occasions. He dominated his penalty area, and was totally blameless for David Silva and Yaya Touré's goals.

Jörg declined to rate his own performance after the match, typical of the man who always puts the team first. Instead, he voiced dismay at the defeat: "You're never happy when you've lost." But his disappointment soon evaporated, as he reflected contentedly on another chance to appear in Europe's elite club competition. "It's always great when you get to play here in England," he said - especially as it was the 90th European outing of his career.

Assuming Neuer remains fit, Wednesday's game was probably Butt's last appearance on the continental stage. His playing contract expires next summer, after which he will take up alternative duties at the club. Jörg believes his vast experience explains why he can immediately deliver the goods at the highest level when called upon. "It has a lot to do with mental preparation. After all, it wasn't my first game at this level."

Dream of European triumph

The keeper revealed he had secretly been hoping to play in Manchester. "It's important for those of us who've not been in the team very often recently to pick up match practice at this level," he remarked, as that is the precondition for a good performance if and when asked to step up to the first team.

Butt is likely to spend the remaining months of the season on the bench, but after a total of 386 Bundesliga appearances, with 62 of them in Munich colours, he is relaxed at the prospect. He was number one keeper for Bayern's double triumph in 2010, but although he has twice appeared in the Champions League final, for Leverkusen in 2002 and FCB in 2010, he finished on the losing side both times. He would like that to change in 2012: "I do have one huge dream, to be involved in the final in Munich next May." And, of course, to win it.
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