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Better late than never

Veteran Butt shines in maiden World Cup outing

After winning the Bundesliga and DFB Cup and finishing as a runner-up in the Champions League, an extraordinary season for veteran keeper Jörg Butt came to a memorable end in the third-place play-off at the World Cup in South Africa. Germany boss Joachim Löw awarded the 36-year-old FCB shot-stopper his fourth senior cap in the consolation meeting with Uruguay, won 3-2 by the Europeans.

“The World Cup has been a fabulous experience for me personally. It's been unbelievably enjoyable,” said the keeper, who ended a seven-year absence from the national team on Saturday night. Second-choice goalkeeper Tim Wiese was sidelined with injury, and number one Manuel Neuer took a seat on the bench. Wearing the number 22, Butt was the first man out of the tunnel for the pre-match warm-up at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

Oldest Germany player

“The coaches and the team know they can rely on me if I’m needed,” Butt said after receiving a last-minute call-up to the squad following an injury to original first-choice keeper René Adler. Against Uruguay, the oldest player in Germany’s World Cup squad started an international for the first time. Butt, clad all in red, was a virtual spectator for the first 25 minutes of the match.

He was not called into action when a Diego Forlán free-kick sailed over the bar, and was relieved at a late Per Mertesacker intervention to deflect a header from the Uruguay superstar. The keeper was powerless to prevent Edinson Cavani equalising on 28 minutes, but he responded by rolling up his sleeves and motivating his team-mates, urging the young Germans not to let their heads go down.

Great saves

After the interval, Butt showed just why Bayern have extended his contract at the club by a further year until 2011. He had no chance against Forlán’s excellent volley to hand the South Americans a 2-1 lead on 51 minutes, but he had previously saved brilliantly from Cavani and Luis Suárez. Just after the hour, he beat out a swerving Suárez drive, and bravely spread himself to deny Forlán from close range.

Butt’s previous international career involved three appearances as a sub: on 7 June 2000 in Freiburg in an 8-2 victory over Liechtenstein, on 27 March 2002 in a 4-2 victory over USA in Rostock, and on 1 June 2003 in a 4-1 win against Canada in Wolfsburg. The veteran was his country’s third keeper at both EURO 2000 and the 2002 World Cup, and has now been rewarded by Löw for his exemplary professional behaviour in his role as a back-up – just as was the case in 2006 for his predecessor at Bayern, Oliver Kahn.