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Fall From Grace – Nicky Butt

Nicky Butt was a member of the United team that dominated the mid-to-late 90s, but whilst some of his former teammates are still playing at the highest level, he was relegated with Newcastle last season and is now playing in the Championship. At 34, his career is coming to an end, but there is little doubt that Butt has suffered from a fall from grace over the last decade.

With United, Butt won 6 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups and a European Cup; he is one of the most successful British players of modern times; in his prime he was an accomplished defensive midfielder with good energy and an impressive passing range. After the 2002 World Cup, Pele named Butt as ‘the best player in the tournament’, it was high praise and Butt was certainly impressive; he starred in England’s defeat of Argentina in the group stages.

In 2004, after 12 years with Manchester United, Butt handed in a transfer request a he wanted more first-team football. He moved to Newcastle for a fee of £2.5million as a replacement for Gary Speed. His career in the North-East started poorly as injuries and poor form haunted Butt in his first season with Newcastle. The fans turned on him after a particularly poor performance in the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United and his commitment to the club was called into question. The following summer, Graeme Souness brought Scott Parker and Emre to the club which pushed Butt down the pecking order. He was sent on loan to Birmingham City for the season; in the matter of two years, Butt had gone from all-conquering Manchester United to relegation-threatened Birmingham City.

Birmingham did get relegated that season and it marked a real low point for Butt’s career. He returned to Newcastle expecting to be sold, but some impressive pre-season showings convinced new manager Glenn Roeder that he had a role to play at the club. Butt went on to find his form again at Newcastle and has slowly ingratiated himself with the fans. Despite this upturn, Butt suffered the second relegation of his career last year when Newcastle were demoted to the Championship. He was one of the club’s better performers during that season but it was another indication of how far his star had fallen.

Butt is now a key part of the Newcastle squad and is actually the captain of the side. His experience is valued highly and though he is not a regular starter, he is important to the club’s fortunes. Despite being captain of the club, it is clear to see that Butt has fallen a long way from the player he was at United. Former teammates Giggs and Scholes continued to win league titles with United while Beckham can now be seen playing in the San Siro; Butt’s decline is even more apparent when compared to his illustrious cohorts.

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Article title: Fall From Grace – Nicky Butt

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