12.03.2022Bayer 04

#RoadtoGlasgow – Butt: 'We could outplay any team at home'

We interviewed our former keeper, who made 263 appearances (eight goals) for the Werkself in his six years (2001 to 2007) under the Bayer Cross, about the 3-1 home win against Juventus 20 years ago, his relationship with Italy’s goalkeeping legend Gianluigi Buffon and – of course – his contribution on 24 minutes. But first a few astonishing facts…

There are several curious events in the career of Jörg Butt. On the one hand, there's the question of penalties. As a goalkeeper, he scored a total of 37 goals from the penalty spot in his 613 games for five clubs. The Oldenburg-born keeper is the top scorer amongst Bundesliga goalkeepers. He is the only keeper in Germany's top flight to have netted two braces from penalties, both in 1999 and both against the same opponents (VfB Stuttgart) and the same goalkeeper (Franz Wohlfahrt). Butt was playing for Hamburg SV at the time.

Another unique achievement: No other player in the Bundesliga was a treble runner-up twice, Butt finished second in the league, DFB Cup and Champions League in 2001/02 with Bayer 04 and he did the same again ten years later with Bayern Munich. The now 47-year-old appeared in the Champions League final three times (once with Bayer 04, twice with Bayern) – and lost all three. Manuel Neuer was in goal for FC Bayern in 2012 with Butt on the bench for the 4-3 defeat on penalties to Chelsea. The former Germany keeper did win titles with Bayern including the double in 2010 (and he also finished third in the World Cup with Germany and South Africa).

Last but not least: Jörg Butt scored for three clubs in the Champions League (Hamburg SV, Bayer 04 and FC Bayern) with goals from the penalty spot and all three were against the same opponent: Juventus. And that brought us to the subject at hand.

Jörg, few pundits gave you a chance of making the quarter-finals ahead of the game against Juventus at the BayArena. How did you see the situation back then?

Butt: I still remember very well the 4-0 defeat in the game in Turin. We had to play in an empty stadium on Thursday afternoon because of the two postponements due to fog. All in all, they were chaotic circumstances. The second group stage didn't really go that well until the second match against Juve. We'ed already lost 4-1 at Arsenal in London. So we had to get a win against Juventus to have any chance of going through. There was enormous pressure.

Where your adventures in Turin, that you just mentioned, additional motivation to put one over on the favourites?

Butt: Yes, definitely. The 4-0 defeat in Turin didn't reflect our potential. After the second postponement, after a long coach journey we finally got to our hotel at one or two in the morning and that wasn't originally booked because we wanted to fly straight back after the game. I wasn't able to sleep at all that night. The conditions were catastrophic. Of course, we definitely wanted to beat Juve because of that.


Like Juventus, you had a number of players sidelined. How big was your confidence in your "second string"?

Butt: I never really thought about it when regular starters were out. There were always lots of good players available. Dimitar Berbatov was already an incredibly good striker for me. Of course, he had two strong, incredible strikers in front of him at the time at Leverkusen in Bayer 04 legend Ulf Kirsten and Oli Neuville. He was definitely no worse. And I had full confidence in Thomas Brdaric. And on top of that: It was a home game and we could outplay any team at home at the BayArena. We were incredibly confident back then. And we took that confidence into the game against Juventus.

On 24 minutes, you could hear chants of Butt, Butt, Butt from the stands – there was a penalty and you stepped up. Butt against Buffon. Juventus had signed their goalkeeper that season for a record sum. What did you think of him?

Butt: He wasn't a World Cup winner then, but he played brilliantly for AC Parma and was then really the most expensive goalkeeper in the world. But in that situation, and I succeeded in doing it most the time, I was able to blank out things like that. On the pitch it felt like I was in the tunnel. And particularly with penalties the challenges to switch everything out, and focus on my shot. In terms of Buffon: I rated him very highly, he was a great and fair sportsman. We often met each other on the pitch. In our 4-1 win away to Juve with Bayern in 2009/10, where I beat him from the penalty spot for the second time after 2002, we swapped shirts and exchanged a few words. He is an incredibly likeable person and athlete who had a fantastic career.

Back to the match in Leverkusen and the 24th minute: Buffon dived to the right, you put the ball in the left side of the net. Did you give him the eyes or had you already decided which side?

Butt: I always tried to stare out the keeper. I didn't know where I was going to shoot. I taught myself that staring out and therefore I had great confidence in myself and a certain conviction. I could focus very well in situations like that. 

You put on pressure straightaway and were clearly on top of the star ensemble from Turin.

Butt: Yes, and there was an incredible atmosphere at the BayArena from the start. The stadium was smaller than today but we had a very special atmosphere here. The fans were very close to the pitch. And that wasn't the case everywhere else at the time. The outstanding football we played back then always brought an exchange between the fans and the team that helped push us forwards. We were a band of brothers. And this stable team set-up helped carry players who didn't get many appearances. For example on that night, Jurica Vranjes who had to come on very early for Jenne. (Jens Nowotny, ed.), or Thomas Brdaric and Marko Babic. The lads were simply swept along. We deservedly won the game in the end.

You knew Juventus very well from the previous season because you played against them twice in the Champions League with Hamburg SV in 2000/01 – and you remained unbeaten…

Butt: That's right and Juve were perhaps stronger with Zinedine Zidane and Filippo Inzaghi. We were a very inexperienced team at HSV back then but we had a super team spirit and enormous determination. With the 4-4 draw in Hamburg, crikey, nobody gave us a chance. And it turned out to be a really crazy game where we went 3-1 down.

Mahdavikia pulled it back to 3-2 and you scored a penalty a couple of minutes later to make it 3-3. Edwin van der Saar was in goal for Juve back then.

Butt: Yes, and we turned the game round when Niko Kovac put us 4-3 up. Unfortunately, we gave away a daft penalty at the end of the game and Inzaghi scored to level at 4-4. And in our 3-1 win in Turin we benefited from Zidane and Edgar Davids being sent off early on. Then we were playing against nine men. That made things much easier for us.

You played against Zinedine Zidane for Bayer 04 in the 2002 Champions League final when he was playing for Real Madrid. Let's talk briefly about Glasgow. How do you remember the final?

Butt: I think the players we were missing in the final made a big difference. We particularly missed Jens Nowotny at the back after he tore his cruciate in the semi-final against Manchester United. Jens and Lucio were just so strong in central defence. Lucio was a bit impetuous and had incredible determination and Jens was the organiser in this duo. Both complemented each other perfectly in their own way. Then Ze Roberto was out. Ze played incredibly well in that season. We conceded a goal early on from a long throw from Roberto Carlos where I took a bit of a risk and ran out. Raul beat me to the ball and pushed it past me. We were outstanding after that and levelled through Lucio. And then came that incredible goal from Zidane just before half-time. It was virtually all one-way traffic in the second half and Real perhaps had one or two chances on the break. Iker Casillas came on in goal for the injured Cesar Sanchez with 20 minutes to play and he probably had the game of his life. He just saved everything. We couldn't manage to beat him.


Did it annoy you that some people thought the shot by Zidane was not unstoppable?

Butt: No. He volleyed the ball from around 14 yards out almost into the top corner. If I'd have thought he do it and I would have stood there. The first goal we conceded was more annoying. It was a situation where I knew what was happening. There was a long throw, then Raul beat Lucio, I came out but didn't get the ball and was caught on the wrong foot. Those are situations decided in milliseconds.

Which of your three Champions League final defeats hurt most?

Butt: When you get to a final you want to win the game and the title. If you lose then the disappointment is massive. And even more so if you are on the pitch yourself. But the defeat with Bayern against Chelsea in 2012 was extremely tough because you look at that with a different awareness. When you play yourself then you hardly appreciate everything else that is happening around you. The final against Chelsea was my last game and I was on the bench so I experienced the disappointment of the fans and everyone around us more intensively. And in terms of the 2-1 defeat against Real Madrid with Bayer 04: When I look back at the route that took us to the final then I remember the outstanding teams we were able to beat on the way to Glasgow so the defeat in the final is a bit less painful looking back. I was also in the World Cup squad with Germany and finished runner-up at the World Cup in Japan and South Korea. There are few players who have got to the final in all competitions in one season. When I finished playing for Bayern in 2012 I was grateful looking back and proud that I'd been able to play at such a high level internationally over so many years.

You been working in the family business since 2013. What's your job exactly?

Butt: My father built up the company. Our head office is in Großenkneten. We manufacture loading systems, for example mobile loading ramps, loading platforms and also industrial doors. My brother Henning is now the managing director and I work in our southern sales office near to Munich looking after sales and marketing for southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Do you still have contacts in Leverkusen?

Butt: I'm still in close contact with Jens Nowotny and Calle Ramelow and I follow the club with interest from afar. I always got on well with Seaman Rolfes and I think he's doing a really good job as sporting director at Leverkusen. Even though I’ve got somewhat closer contact to FC Bayern due to the proximity, it would definitely be good for the Bundesliga if clubs like Bayer 04 could again provide more excitement at the top. To be honest: I'm happy with every title for Bayern but I wish Leverkusen the league title from the bottom of my heart.

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