Paul Butler - Fans memories of a Leeds United captain

He was the captain who came so close yet so far in helping Leeds United reach the promised land.

Sunday, 24th October 2021, 4:30 pm
Paul Butler celebrates scoring against Sheffield Wednesday at Elland Road in January 2006. PIC:
Paul Butler celebrates scoring against Sheffield Wednesday at Elland Road in January 2006. PIC:

Paul Butler led the side to within 90 minutes of glory and the riches of the Premier League at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium in May 2006.

The 3-0 Championship play-off final defeat against Watford brought to an end a season of hope and expectation with 'Butts' proving to be a driving force in the centre of defence.

He had already enjoyed a full season of top flight football with Wolverhampton Wanderers when he joined the fellow-relegated Whites in July 2004.

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Manager Kevin Blackwell consoles a dejected Paul Butler after the Championship play-off final against Watford at the Millennium Stadium in May 2006. PIC: Getty

He quickly became manager Kevin Blackwell's first choice defensive lynchpin and formed a formidable partnership with non-nonsense stalwart Sean Gregan.

His first season in a Leeds Unites shirt proved to be one of consolidation for the Whites before a full on assault on promotion the following campaign.

Butler's first goal for Leeds came during a memorable 90 minutes against Southampton on the south coast in November 2005. His headed goal kicked off a remarkable 20-minute four-goal blitz which fired the Whites to a great comeback win at St Mary's.

He followed that up with a goal which broke the deadlock against Sheffield Wednesday at Elland Road in January 2006 when as he rose high to head home Jonathon Douglas' cross.

Butler missed both legs of Leeds United's play-off semi-finals against Preston after picking up a calf injury during training.

"I am absolutely gutted about it. These are the biggest games of my life as a Leeds United player and I can't play. I am devastated, but I'm focusing on backing the lads and helping them in any way I can," he told the YEP. "It's not about me, it's about the team, and we have a good enough squad of players here. I'll be in the dressing room and I will be a part of it. I hope the lads get through."

They did and thanks to more than 10 hours in an oxygen chamber in a bid to ease the problem while the United physio team supplied round the clock treatment Butler was pronounced fit to lead the team out in the play-off final in front of 38,000 Leeds fans.

He racked up 100 league appearances for Leeds United scoring four goals before he moved out to MK Dons on loan, a move which was eventually made permanent.

Your YEP asked the Elland Road faithful to share memories of a number six, who was always a Butler at your service.

Responses included:

Ian Elliott - "Always gave his best and was a solid enough player during hard times. By today's standards he certainly would have lacked pace and ball playing attributes at the back. But back in those days of 4-4-2, primarily alongside Matt Kilgallon he was a solid pro and a good leader."

David J Díaz - "He was a great leader and a coup of a signing. Wasn't treated with the respect he deserved towards the end of his Leeds career though. He scored some good goals too, especially v Southampton."

Stephen Eastwood - "Gave loyal service and put his body on the line. Not sure what more you can ask."

Stephen Reynolds -"The first thought that came to mind was his first goal for the club at "that game" down at Southampton. Was down there for the weekend, brilliant."

Dean Croxall - "Cracking player this lad."

Jason Stones - "Awesome‼️"

Andrew Billingham - "Him and Sean Gregan at the back. I’ve seen super tankers turn in the ocean quicker."

Chris Kitson - "Yes, they were both not blessed with speed or ability but they were both good defenders. We've had a hell of a lot worse."

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