Butt leaves role as Man Utd's head of first team development

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FILE PHOTO: Premier League - Chelsea v Manchester United

(Reuters) - Former Manchester United midfielder Nicky Butt has left his role as their head of first team development in order to seek a new challenge, the Premier League club said on Wednesday.

The former England midfielder, who played 387 games for United between 1992 and 2004, was moved up to the position from Head of Academy two years ago and reported directly to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

"Having come through the academy myself to play almost 400 games for Manchester United, it has been an absolute privilege to come back and work with a new generation of talent making that same journey," Butt said in a statement.

"I already know from my playing days how difficult it is to leave Manchester United, but it feels like the right moment for a new professional challenge.

"... I look forward to exploring opportunities that build on the great experiences I've had here over the past nine years."

Butt helped develop several academy players who have broken into the senior team including Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay, Axel Tuanzebe, Dean Henderson and Mason Greenwood.

"Nicky will always be a legend of United as a six-times Premier League winner and an integral part of our treble-winning team," Solskjaer said.

"That pedigree has made him a great source of guidance and inspiration to our academy players... We are all going to miss him... but Nicky knows he will always be welcome back."

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)