Having experienced the polar-opposite emotions which a Play-Off Final brings, Paul Butler describes winning at the Millennium Stadium with Wolves in 2003 as a ‘special moment’.
Following a memorable victory over Sheffield United, the defender lifted the trophy alongside Paul Ince, marking his third and final promotion as a player.
Butler, who returns as a WV1 guest for the weekend’s game, unsurprisingly turns straight to that momentous day in Cardiff when recollecting his time in gold and black.
“There’s something special about going up via the Play-Offs,” he told wolves.co.uk. “Obviously every player wants to win the league, but anyone who has won a Play-Off at any level knows that feeling.
“It was great playing in that final because 20 minutes into the second-half Sheffield United fans were leaving. Matt Murray’s save from the penalty which shouldn’t have been gave us a second wind.
“We kept everything normal pre-match, wearing our tracksuits, and there aren’t many finals where you’re 3-0 up at half-time. There wasn’t much for Dave Jones to say.”
Having won the second tier previously with Sunderland, Butler moved to Molineux on the back of a month’s loan, which simply wet the Mancunian’s appetite.
“I had a number of clubs come in for me but had been on loan for a month at Wolves with Colin Lee, and I liked the feel of the place,” he explained.
“I’d spent a good three-and-a-half years at Sunderland, a great family club with strong traditions, and it felt very similar, that it was ready to go and all it needed was a bit of tweaking here and there.
“The Wolves fans are very knowledgeable about football and who is pulling their weight, you can’t pull the wool over their eyes. I played in the Premier League there and I thought I did well.”
2004 saw the end of Butler’s time at Molineux and, after 141 appearances in gold and black, the 45-year-old moved onto pastures new with Leeds United.
“I was trying to negotiate a contract with Wolves but I ended up going to Leeds and nearly got a fourth promotion in my second season – losing a Play-Off Final wasn’t nice.”
As the years went by, Butler’s chance of adding to his solitary Republic of Ireland cap decreased, however the defender takes the positives from the situation.
“I was in a few squads under Mick McCarthy but it was maybe a blessing I didn’t play more as I didn’t have to travel all over the world.
“The pinnacle of your career is trying to get the club you play for promoted and I did that with Sunderland, Wolves and Bury, and almost nicked another with Leeds.”
After Leeds, Butler spent time with MK Dons and Chester, before hanging up his boots and turning to recruitment, which took him to his current job at Manchester City.
“I’ve been in the role for four years and look after recruitment for ages 14 to 18 and it’s great to be involved, watching talent.
“I run a scholars programme three nights a week, do bits of radio work and have been to a few Wolves away games with the fans which has allowed me to understand them more,” he added.
Although places are sold out in WV1 for 2017's remaining fixtures, there is one hospitality package remaining for the Ipswich Town fixture on the 23rd December. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.