Treble Icons: Nicky Butt
Often overlooked from our Treble legends, Nicky Butt’s ability to slip seamlessly into the team proved invaluable for the Reds in our 1998/99 campaign. A gritty and relentless midfielder with a keen eye for a pass, he demonstrated all the qualities that Sir Alex Ferguson wanted.
LET'S HEAR FROM THE MAN HIMSELF
“If you look at the local area and beyond, it's important to have these kind of charity associations and to give back to the community. There are a lot of kids around the area who need our help, places to play football and enjoy sport. This is a big part of the Foundation's work and it¹s massively needed. It's something we are all proud to be involved with.”
The Treble season was Butt’s fifth as an established first-team player at United, and in the previous campaigns he'd proven himself to be an ever-reliable figure.
Despite facing the daunting task of competing with Paul Scholes or Roy Keane in midfield, Nicky made 47 appearances during the course of 1998/99.
He was often tasked with marking the opposition’s most creative and skilful player, not least in the Champions League final when he managed to keep a lid on the talented Stefan Effenberg.
However, Butt was far more than a hatchet man - he possessed the ability to link the defence and midfield with his accurate, well-timed range of passing. For a holding midfielder, he also had an eye for goal, despite his two strikes in the Treble season proving to be one of his leaner years.
Late goals became our speciality in 1998/99 and Butty bagged one of the sweetest that year. With the score tied 2-2 at home to Leeds in November, the no.8 meandered up the pitch in search of a late, winning strike. Positioned at the edge of the area, Nicky received the ball from Phil Neville. His first touch was sublime, taking three players out of the game and laying him on for a shooting chance.
The strike iwas out of this world and blasted past a helpless Paul Robinson in the away goal, while sending the majority of Old Trafford into raptures.
“Nicky Butt was an animal. He’d run all over you. He had power, strength. He’d kick you, he’d pass the ball, he run forward and you thought, ‘jeez’.”
WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE NOU CAMP?
Butt remained an integral part of the United team following the Treble campaign, but in 2004 the midfielder made the gut-wrenching decision to leave the Reds. He departed a winner of six Premier League titles, three FA Cups and, of course, the owner of a Champions League winners’ medal.
Still an England international, Butty joined Newcastle United and went onto play over 170 games for the Magpies in six years, which also included a season-long loan at Birmingham City in 2005/06. After that, Nicky enjoyed a very brief spell in China, before hanging up his boots in 2011.
Since retiring, Butt has taken up a role as United’s Head of Academy, where he is today helping to inspire our next generation of talented youngsters.
He will, however, forget about coaching for an afternoon on 26 May when he and his former United team-mates take on Bayern Munich in the Treble Reunion match. Tickets are still available to buy.
Thanks to United fan and Old Trafford season-ticket holder Stanley Chow for his portrait of Nicky Butt. To see more of his ‘Treble Winners’ collection, visit www.thestanleychowprintshop.com.