Butler marvels at his whirlwind year

Dan Butler
Dan Butler

twelve months ago a nervous 17-year-old stepped up into the first-team environment for the maiden time.

Now a very different Dan Butler finds himself part of Pompey’s pre-season as plans are put in place for the campaign ahead.

Last summer he was one of six first-year professionals, looking ahead to plenty of new challenges in the battle to establish themselves in the professional game.

Little could he have anticipated that a year on, he would be first-choice left-back.

After breaking into Guy Whittingham’s team at the turn of the year, Butler went on to make 18 appearances and establish himself as one of the Blues’ brightest prospects.

A two-year contract followed in May as the Pompey boss overhauled his squad.

And the left-back cannot but help reflecting on a memorable past year in his fledgling football career.

He said: ‘This time last year my main aim was to get a new contract.

‘Andy Awford gave me first-year pro forms and told me my aim was to get it torn up by Christmas and have a new one in place of it.

‘A lot of people get to become a first-year professional.

‘But the next couple of contracts after that are the main ones.

‘The more the season went on, I just wanted to get a new contract.

‘On the first day of the season (Bournemouth) I was in the crowd at Fratton Park and was impressed how good the standard was and how well the teams played.

‘We had quite a strong team and it seemed they were going to try to push for promotion. Then I went on loan to the Hawks and came back and the team hadn’t won for 16 matches!

‘I had played 11 games at the Hawks and it was really good.

‘Then everything at Pompey seemed to click for me.

‘Towards the end of the season I felt I got better and better.

‘You know what you are capable of but if you don’t do it in the game you lose that bit of belief.

‘I felt I got more confident and I’m definitely taking that into this season now.’

Butler has been with the Blues since he was nine and was always the youngest of an age group which also included Ashley Harris and latterly Jed Wallace.

All three chalked up plenty of appearances for Pompey last season, as did Adam Webster from the year below.

And Butler is relishing maintaining his development in the first-team spotlight.

He added: ‘I don’t think I will ever forget Sheffield United, I never imagined playing in an atmosphere like that.

‘When I walked out the tunnel I got goosebumps. I cannot even try to describe it to you.

‘I really enjoyed Brentford until we ended up losing – our fans were crazy.

‘Then there was Hartlepool away. I’ve never been under that much pressure in one game than in that last 15 minutes. I didn’t get out of the 18-yard box!

‘Now I’m looking forward to this season and more games’