FC Bayern – Miasanrot Advent Calendar, Door 22: Hans-Jörg Butt
When those wide, loose goalkeeper shirts were still considered trés chic in the Bundesliga at the beginning of the 2000s, there were plenty of striking characters between the posts. There were Olli Kahn and Jens Lehmann, who liked to get physical on the pitch. In the capital, there was Gabor Kiraly, the personified jogging pants, and in Cottbus, the positively crazy Tomislav Piplica had gained iconic status. And then there was Hans-Jörg Butt, the surefire penalty taker.
It all began in Oldenburg in 1996. Butt, then 22, scored a penalty in the 40th minute to make it 1-0 against St. Pauli’s reserve team in the Regionalliga Nord – and because it went so well, he was allowed to take the second penalty in the 90th minute. Again successful.
Butt remained the most reliable penalty taker, whether in Oldenburg or later at Hamburger SV, where he even became the club’s most successful goal scorer in the 99/00 season with nine goals. He even scored twice for the Rothosen. Even when he went to Bayer Leverkusen afterwards, Butt remained the team’s first choice penalty taker and scored eight more times. His most legendary goal was probably a penalty hi scored on the 29th matchday of the 2003/04 season against FC Schalke. After converting successfully from the spot, Butt indulged a little too exuberantly in his goal scoring celebrations and on the subsequent kick-off Mike Hanke scored from the centre circle over the still celebrating Butt.
But this was not to end the fairy tale of the penalty-taking Hans-Jörg Butt. By the end of his career, he had scored 37 goals, ten of which lead his team to victory. He converted three penalties in the Champions League. Curiously, all of them came against Juventus Turin. Since he scored these three goals with three different clubs (HSV, Bayer, Bayern), Butt is among elite company with Ruud van Nistelrooy and Cristiano Ronaldo here.
Butt’s time at Bayer Leverkusen came to an end after a red card entailing a four-game suspension, during which a young, up-and-coming René Adler turned everybody’s heads and ousted the long-time regular keeper. Butt moved to Lisbon, where he never really found his feet and was surprisingly brought to Bayern as a backup by Jürgen Klinsmann the following summer. There, the post-Titan Kahn era was upon us.
The role on the bench as second goalkeeper, from which Butt had fled in Leverkusen, initially suited him well in Munich. But in the next few years, Butt was to swap roles several times.
First there was the 2009 season, in which Klinsmann benched the future national goalkeeper Rensing (according to Hoeneß) after the 1-5 defeat to Wolfsburg and before the quarter-final against FC Barcelona. Although Klinsi’s team went down 0-4 without as much as a whimper even with Butt between the posts, the goalkeeper remained in goal until the end of the season under interim coach Heynckes.
When Louis van Gaal came to the Säbener Straße for the new season, Butt was again initially relegated to the bench. Rensing was again in goal. However, the new, old pecking order only lasted for three matchdays. After two points from the first games and with his back to the wall, van Gaal once again made his number 22 his number one.
Butt was even officially given this number for the next season, only to be replaced by the next talented goalkeeper, Thomas Kraft, after the next half-season. The Dutch maverick van Gaal wanted to bring through the next homegrown talent after Badstuber, Müller and Alaba. When the tulip general had to leave after a 1-1 draw at Nuremberg, his former co-coach and new interim coach Jonker brought Butt back in goal.
It was not until the following season that FC Bayern signed a new, clear-cut number one in Manuel Neuer. Butt was relegated to the bench again and only made three appearances. In his final of 387 Bundesliga games, he captained Bayern against VfB Stuttgart.
At FC Bayern, Kahn and Neuer reigend supreme, who were probably the two most influential (German) goalkeepers of the 2000s. The quest of becoming the successor to the titan was at least one cut above the talents Rensing and Kraft, but tailor-made for the placeholder goalkeeper Butt.