VIDEO: Jack's Olympic inspiration
Monday, 13 August, 2012
Young 'keeper says England debut and record will be a 'dream come true' after Olympic experience.
England’s Jack Butland is hoping he can round off what has been a whirlwind few weeks and years this Wednesday when the Three Lions travel to Berne for a game with Italy ahead of the new season.
It’s only just over two years ago that the 19-year-old was part of the England U17s team which won the European Championship and 12 months ago he was away with the U20s at the World Cup in Colombia.
Since then, he’s moved into the Under-21 set-up, enjoyed a successful loan spell with League Two side Cheltenham Town and then travelled to this summer’s EURO 2012 Finals in Poland and Ukraine.
To cap it off after that, Butland also became an Olympian as part of Stuart Pearce’s Team GB squad in London 2012 and after watching the Olympic closing ceremony on Sunday night, the Birmingham City star was keen to recall and pay tribute to the experience he enjoyed.
"It was fantastic all-round for everyone involved,” he said. “I was very proud and privileged to play a part in something bigger than just football for once.
"With football, you don't really mix with other athletes so it was a very good experience to see how all of the other sports do it as well and just get a feel for the Olympics. It was something I won't forget.
“The Euros was something that I’d always aimed for, the Olympics was something that I never really thought that I’d be able to represent in.
“It was solely football in the Euros and it was fantastic to train with top players and was a big eye-opener for me. It’s where I want to be for long periods of my career, but being a part of Team GB, you’re a part of something so much more. It was two completely different worlds but just as inspiring as each other.”
With Joe Hart missing the trip to Switzerland this week due to injury, that leaves Butland and Norwich City ‘keeper John Ruddy competing for a spot in Roy Hodgson’s line-up and whilst Ruddy has a head-start over Butland in terms of match experience itself, he still feels he can edge the battle if selected.
“As a goalkeeper, experience is a massive thing,” he added. “There’s no better practice than playing games, which I managed to do at the Olympics and I’ve been able to see how the likes of Joe and Rob Green work and train, as well as the other lads in the squad as well.
“It was just as beneficial as the Olympics, to see how it’s done and I can’t explain how important that’s been both confidence-wise and to see where I want to be. I can’t fault anything that’s happened and I’ve truly enjoyed every minute of it.”
And if Hodgson does choose to select Butland, he will make history as the youngest debutant goalkeeper to play for England, something which the Bristol-born stopper was already aware of.
“It’s what dreams are made of,” he said. “It’s unfortunately come from an injury to Joe but if I get the chance, it’ll be a dream come true and it’s something that I can’t stop thinking about and I’d love the chance to be able to perform on that stage on Wednesday night.
“I couldn’t help but look it up on Google the other day and see what the record (for the youngest goalkeeper) was. Billy Moon was the other one I believe, so if I get the chance then fantastic but I’m still young and I’m still working very hard. If it comes, then I’ll be over the moon.
“I’m not going to try and put too much pressure on myself and expect anything, but not a lot goalkeepers get a chance this young to be in this position.
“I’m going to try and take everything in my stride. If it doesn’t happen on Wednesday then I’ll be working harder to make it happen on a different occasion.
“It’s something I’m very excited for and have been striving towards. I’ve still got a long way to go but this is where I want to be and where I want to play.”