Former England international Nicky Butt personally championed Joe Riley’s move to Sheffield United, the 20-year-old defender revealed last night.
Riley is set to make his debut for Chris Wilder’s side against Gillingham this weekend after arriving on loan from Manchester United.
And, speaking after being officially unveiled by the League One leaders, Riley revealed how Butt, now head of Old Trafford’s youth academy, recommended he joined Wilder’s squad after learning of Bramall Lane’s interest.
“Nicky only had really good things to say about Sheffield United,” Riley said. “He spoke really highly about the club, the ground and the crowd. For me, coming here makes perfect sense and I can’t wait to get out there and hopefully show people what I can do. It ticks every single box, to be fair, and when someone like Nicky talks it through with you and confirms what you already think then, to be honest, that just hammers it home. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t say anything but good things about this place.”
As The Star revealed earlier this month, United first expressed an interest in recruiting Riley after being impressed by his performances at under-23 level. But the deal, which is scheduled to run until the end of the season, was delayed until he recovered from a minor hamstring complaint.
Riley, who has made two senior appearances for Manchester United, started his career in midfield and becomes the second new player to join Wilder’s team since the transfer window reopened 17 days ago. Samir Carruthers, previously of MK Dons, recently agreed a long-term contract with United who have also signed Daniel Lafferty on a permanent basis. The former Burnley wing-back had spent the past five months in South Yorkshire on loan.
Butt made nearly 400 appearances for Manchester United, winning six Premier League titles, two FA Cups the UEFA Champions League during his own playing career.
Riley said: “Nicky chatted through everything with me. He’s been really helpful to me and, like Warren Joyce who used to be in charge of the under-23’s, a big influence on my career.
“I wanted to play first team football because I thought that was important and he agreed that Sheffield United was the perfect place to do that. Everyone was really supportive of me coming out on loan and, like I say, they all thought Sheffield United was the right move. That’s Nicky, other people at Manchester United and also my family and friends. I know I’m coming to a top club and I want to help Sheffield United go up if I can.”