Team GB keeper Jack Butland announces himself at Olympics
The teenager has gone from obscurity to stardom in the space of one summer
AT THE start of the summer few people had heard of Birmingham City's teenage goalkeeper Jack Butland, but in the space of three months he has gone from playing in front of 7,000 people for League Two Cheltenham Town to being picked for the England Euro 2012 squad, to keeping goal at Wembley for Team GB, and he is now being tipped for a big money move to the Premier League.
The young keeper is just one of the Team GB starlets who are starting to win over an initially sceptical public and who are now seen as real medal prospects in the London Olympics.
The old stagers in the Olympic set up, Ryan Giggs, Craig Bellamy and Micah Richards, are already famous and most of the other star performers in the side, including Aaron Ramsey, Daniel Sturridge, Tom Cleverly and Scott Sinclair are well known to Premier League fans despite their tender years.
Three months ago Butland was known to few people outside Birmingham or Cheltenham, where he spent the season on loan. His surprise inclusion in Roy Hodgson's England plans brought him to the attention of the wider public, as did his elevation to the full squad for Euro 2012 after Norwich keeper John Ruddy broke a finger.
Now he is impressing even more observers with his assured performances at the Olympics. On Wednesday night he kept a clean sheet against a Uruguay side featuring Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. He made several fine stops and showed a good command of his box. He is even being talked about as a potential rival to England's current keeper Joe Hart.
Yet he is not an entirely overnight sensation. His stock has been high for some time. "At one match last season, Butland was watched by no fewer than 52 scouts," reported The Daily Telegraph earlier this summer. "Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City were all represented while Eric Steele, Manchester United's goalkeeping coach, was present when Butland saved a penalty at Rotherham United in April."
The 19-year-old from Bristol was spotted as a schoolboy and joined Birmingham back in 2007, he turned professional in March 2010 when he turned 17. And although he has not yet played for the senior team he has represented England at every age group level from under-16 to under-21.
It surely won't be long until he makes an impression in the Premier League, and earlier this week it was reported that Liverpool were lining up a big money offer for the talented shot-stopper. But Birmingham aren't going to let him go on the cheap, the teenager is already valued at £8m. ·