Jack's warning shot
Wednesday, 26 May, 2010
Jack Butland believes England have got what it takes to conquer Europe.
UEFA European U17 Championship
By Glenn Lavery in Liechtenstein
After his first-half heroics allowed England to build a platform for victory against Turkey on Monday night, goalkeeper Jack Butland insisted this current crop of U17 internationals have the requisite talent and attitude to conquer Europe.
Butland was in inspired form in the opening 40 minutes of England’s 2-1 win over the Turks in the final Group B match of the UEFA European U17 Championship Finals and he and his team-mates can now look forward to a semi-final against France on Thursday.
In the aforementioned first half Butland denied Turkish skipper Artun Akçakin on three separate occasions, saving once at his near post, knocking a second shot away with a strong wrist and, finally, demonstrating lightning-quick reflexes with a superb double-stop from a corner. He also kept out an effort from Okay Yokuşlu in a busy opening period for the Birmingham stopper. Although Butland did eventually concede in the 31st minute he had done enough to keep England in the game by the time Saido Berahino equalised just five minutes before the break, and Rob Hall’s converted penalty sealed the win and capped off an improved second-half performance from John Peacock’s side.
After playing a key role in that victory Butland then fired a warning shot to the other three semi-finalists.
“Everyone realises that we’ve got a great chance to win this competition,” said Birmingham City’s recently crowned Young Player of the Year.
“We have got a very good squad and we proved that by winning all six of our qualifiers, but this is where it matters now. John made a few changes for the Turkey game and we still went out and won so that says that we’ve got a lot of quality amongst the boys. We all get on really well and we want to keep pushing on.
“We’ve just got to take each game as it comes, make sure no-one gets ahead of the game or big-headed. We’ve just got to stay focused and if we do that then I think we’ve got a really good chance.”
And what did Butland make of his own contribution against Turkey?
“I thought I put in a good performance,” he said. “Sometimes you don’t get a lot to do as a ‘keeper and I haven’t really had the busiest games with England in the past, so when you get something to do you’ve just got to be ready for it. These balls move so much that almost every save is a reaction save but you’ve got to stay up as long as you can and just do your best to get there, which I feel I did.
The Turkey game represented Butland’s first start in the Euros as Sam Johnstone wore the No.1 jersey for the opening two group matches, against Czech Republic and Greece. Butland says there is a healthy competition among the two goalkeepers but says that hasn’t allowed either of them to lose sight of the main objective.
“Obviously I’d rather play than be on the bench,” he admitted, “but we’re all part of a squad and we are all here to win so if it means that I don’t play the first two games but I start the third then so be it. I just have to take my chance. But if Sam starts I’ll always support him, and vice-versa, and that’s all part of being with England. We both want to do well for our country.”
Over this past week, both Butland and Johnstone have been put through their paces by Joe Corrigan, Manchester City’s legendary former goalkeeper who amassed over 600 appearances for the Blues, and Butland says he is enjoying every minute of the experience.
“It’s been great for both me and Sam,” he smiled. “He’s put on some good sessions and he has always got something to say. He’s very vocal, he helps you out and gives you little things to think about.
“Joe’s quite a funny man actually but I’ve learnt a lot from him.”