Few could’ve predicted the impact Jack Butland would have on Stoke after Asmir Begovic left for Chelsea in the summer.
After playing third fiddle for the beginning of his career at Stoke, Butland has now risen to the challenge and is threatening Joe Hart for the number one jersey for England.
He has had to work hard throughout his career to get to this level, and it’s not through a lack of trying. When Shay Given signed for the Potters, many thought the England youngster still wasn’t going to get a chance.
Yet if anything, the signing of the experienced keeper has helped to push Butland to a new level, and make him one of the most sought after goalkeepers in Europe.
The youngster from Bristol first came to national attention when he replaced fan favourite Ben Foster at Birmingham, who moved to Midland rivals West Brom. The Blues have a great past for good number 1’s, with fellow England keepers Joe Hart and Foster making an impact there, too. It is no wonder that Butland was quickly scouted by some of the best clubs in England.
With Birmingham needing to sell to make money, Butland was one of the main names at the top of the list who could earn the Blues a big payday. Jack showed great maturity in turning down a big move to Chelsea, knowing that his opportunities would be limited behind Petr Cech and the incoming Thibaut Courtois. Instead the then 19-year-old opted for Stoke City, and has not looked back since.
Though there were loan moves away from Stoke to teams like Birmingham, Barnsley, Leeds and Derby, the young keeper was consistently good, both for club and country, including representing Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics.
This season he has been Stoke’s most consistent performer, and has played a huge role in helping Mark Hughes’ side up to seventh in the Premier League.
The England star is consistent within the Stoke team, and has been pointed out by teammates, opposition players and pundits for his exploits this term. Even though he may not have kept clean sheets in every match, he has been praised for great saves that have kept Stoke in several games.
With international recognition and a possibility of a goalkeeper transfer merry-go-round in the summer, the England international could see himself move away from Stoke. The likes of Liverpool and Manchester United could be in the market for a new goalkeeper, and Jack may find himself attracting attention.
It could be a longer summer for Stoke fans, and if Butland continues to perform this season, then he could easily be at a bigger club. At the age of 22 he still has a long career ahead of him, and will provide consistency and solidity for any team…