Jacob Butterfield glad to put Norwich City ‘exclusion’ behind him with Middlesbrough
- Credit: Action Images
Jacob Butterfield said he was a fortgotten man who felt 'excluded' during a year in the wilderness as a Norwich City player.
When Butterfield woke up on Monday morning he was contemplating another season out of the picture at Norwich City.
Butterfield had earned his dream move to the Premier League last summer, but it didn't quite go the way he had hoped with the 23-year-old making just a handful of appearances under former Newcastle United manager Chris Hughton.
Just four months into his time at Carrow Road, Hughton sent the midfielder out on loan to Bolton Wanderers and then Crystal Palace after Christmas.
Not the way a player, who was once described as 'the best midfielder in the Championship' by former Barnsley manager Keith Hill, had envisaged his dream move turning out.
However, after a whirlwind few days which started with a call from his agent at 5pm on Monday evening, Butterfield is now back in the Championship after signing a three-year contract at Middlesbrough minutes before the 11pm deadline.
It puts an end to Butterfield's year in the wilderness and now with a fresh start on Teesside the Bradford-born midfielder is eager to re-invent himself after becoming one of English football's forgotten young talents.
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'It's nice to feel wanted and feel part of it,' admitted Butterfield, who signed his contract with Boro before he had a chance to visit the club.
'I felt excluded down in Norwich after the first few months, but now I want to be part of something good up here and I'm thankful in the manager for showing faith in me and now I have to repay him for that 'It was difficult at Norwich. I was coming back from injury and they sent out on loan and I was all over the place. I said I'd go back and give it a good go in pre-season and see where I was at, but I still wasn't going to be part of the manager's plans.
'You go there thinking you've worked so hard to and you think you're going to move onto the next level of your career, but for me it was more like a backward step.
'You get forgotten about and people start to question you from the outside, but there's other reason for that. It's not that I'm not good enough. I think under a different manager I would have played at Norwich, but it was his (Hughton's) decision and all I can do it move on and look to the future with Middlesbrough.
'I've got myself in a place now where I accept what happened and I'm ready to go again. I want to play in the Premier League - that's the reason I went to Norwich - but it didn't work out and now I want to get back there with Boro.'
Although he has had a taste of life in the top flight, Butterfield insists he didn't hesitate when the call came from Teesside even if it meant dropping down a division.
He said: 'The main thing I need to do is play games and I suppose re-invent myself as the player I was before.
'I almost feel like I've been forgotten about. I didn't really play many games at Norwich and in football you can be forgotten about quite quickly so I didn't hesitate to drop down to the Championship. I got a move to the Premier League from good performances in this league, but with Middlesbrough I think there's the potential to get back there as a club and I'd love to be part of it.'
Mowbray has been tracking the former England Under-21 international for some time. The Boro boss tried to bring Butterfield to Teesside when he left Barnsley, but the lure of Premier League football at Norwich seemed too good to turn down at the time.
And it's easy to see why Mowbray has continued to monitor the 23-year-old's situation. Butterfield spent seven years at Manchester United's academy before joining Barnsley, where he made a swift move from youth player to first-team regular.
'It was a good environment to learn,' Butterfield explained. 'I spent seven years there and they taught me how to play football as a young kid. It was a good experience and a good footballing upbringing and then I went to Barnsley.
'That was good for me in different ways because it gave me the chance to be a big fish in a smaller pond and I ended up in the first team quite quickly. For any young player you need to be playing games as soon as possible.
'I know the manager (Mowbray) has liked me as a player for awhile. Boro is a big club, the set-up is fantastic. He's a good manager and the team plays the right style of football for me. The whole thing was appealing and I was struggling to see any negatives of moving here and I didn't hesitate to get the deal done and I'm glad it is done now.'