Stoke and England Shot Stopper Refused to Be Cannon Fodder for Strikers Even in His Teens

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Mark Yates, who handed Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland his league debut for Cheltenham when he was just 18, has claimed he knew when it was time to stop taking hits from the senior strikers even as a teenager.

Butland, now 24, has started to fulfil his potential since becoming the starting keeper for Stoke, which has lead to many to call for the England number one spot to be Butland's instead of Joe Hart.

Yates, who brought Butland to Cheltenham on loan from Birmingham City, says the young shot stopper wouldn't stand by and be a whipping boy for the senior players.

As reported by The Sentinel, he said, “He didn’t want to be out on the training ground with the lads having pot shots at him all the time, but he would give them 10 minutes of his time at the end of training to give them shooting practices and some of the saves he made were incredible.

“When he’d done his work and he’d had enough – when things were in favour of the strikers, who would starting shooting from a bit closer – that was him done and he’d let the other keepers field shots.

"The lads would see it as a challenge for themselves to see if they could beat him."

He goes on to say how, even as a teenager, his abundance of raw talent was immediately apparent. 


“His confidence immediately struck you,” said Yates. “There was an aura about him. Without him being big-headed about anything or blase about it, he just oozed confidence even as a gangly 18-year-old.

“You could see he would fill into a really good frame, and he was very confident about himself without being arrogant, which the lads could see straight away.

“You always hear ‘they’re going to be this, they’re going to be that’, and I thought that with Jack, but you never know, which is testament to the lad.

“He was really grounded and although he had that air of confidence, you could see he’d been brought up right. You could see he was a family lad. He was polite, well-mannered, but just a classy kid.


“He’s such a young age, so the goalkeeping world really is his to dominate. There are kids coming through like Jordan Pickford and one or two others, but Jack is at a great age (now 24) to keep improving and be number one for years to come.”

Butland and Stoke host Southampton on Saturday, and will be looking to bounce back following their 4-0 home defeat last time out against champions Chelsea