Darren Fletcher

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For the retired American baseball player, see Darrin Fletcher.
Darren Fletcher
Darren Fletcher vs Everton (cropped).jpg
Fletcher with Manchester United in 2009
Personal information
Full name Darren Barr Fletcher[1]
Date of birth (1984-02-01) 1 February 1984 (age 30)[1]
Place of birth Dalkeith, Scotland
Height 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)[2]
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Manchester United
Number 24
Youth career
1995–2002 Manchester United
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2002– Manchester United 212 (18)
National team
2002 Scotland U20 2 (2)
2002–2003 Scotland U21 4 (0)
2003 Scotland B 1 (0)
2003– Scotland 62 (5)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 15:11, 11 May 2014 (UTC).

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 21 April 2014

Darren Barr Fletcher (born 1 February 1984) is a Scottish footballer who plays as a central midfielder for English Premier League club Manchester United. He is the current captain of Scottish national team. The industrious footballer has also played as a right midfielder or as an emergency defender.[3]

Fletcher came through the ranks of Manchester United's Youth Academy and has won five Premier Leagues, one FA Cup, two League Cups, the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup. Fletcher was included in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year for 2009–10.

Fletcher made his Scotland debut in 2003 and scored his first international goal on his second appearance. After Barry Ferguson was banned from international football because of a breach of regulations, Fletcher was given the captain's armband in August 2009.[4][5] Fletcher has won a total of 62 caps and scored five goals for Scotland.[6]

In December 2011, he began an extended break from football due to continuing health problems caused by ulcerative colitis.[7] He made his return on 19 September 2012,[8] but later underwent an operation to attempt to lessen the effects of the condition, ruling him out for the remainder of the 2012–13 season.[9] He returned to the first team for the second time away to Aston Villa on 15 December 2013.

Club career[edit]

Manchester United[edit]

Born in Dalkeith and raised in Mayfield near Edinburgh, Fletcher played his youth football at Hutchison Vale and Tynecastle Boys Club before being scouted by Manchester United.[10][11] He has been at United for his whole career since joining the youth academy. He joined Manchester United as a youth player at the age of 11, and was set to become the youngest player ever to appear in the Manchester United first-team when he was selected for the club's final fixture of the 1999–2000 FA Premier League season against Aston Villa on 14 May 2000; however, Premier League rules prohibit players on schoolboy contracts from appearing at the senior level, and Fletcher's debut was delayed.[12] He subsequently signed a trainee contract in July 2000, before signing his first professional contract on his 17th birthday on 1 February 2001.

Meanwhile, he gradually progressed through the club's youth teams, and was part of the reserve team that won the Manchester Senior Cup in 1999–2000.[13] He was initially seen as a right midfielder in the David Beckham mould and was tipped by many to break into the first-team with ease and stay there for many years to come,[14] but as he developed came to be viewed more as a central midfielder.

Over the next couple of seasons, Fletcher's involvement was limited due to various injuries, including a broken foot; nevertheless, by the 2002–03 season, he had become a regular member of the reserve team, and after several appearances as an unused substitute, he finally made his first-team debut on 12 March 2003 – almost three years behind schedule – starting on the right side of midfield against Basel in the second group stage of the UEFA Champions League.[15][16] He was substituted for David Beckham after 73 minutes, but a second Champions League appearance followed against Deportivo de La Coruña a week later,[17] and he was named as a substitute for both legs of the quarter-final tie against Real Madrid.[18][19] For his performances for the reserve team during the 2002–03 season, Fletcher received the Denzil Haroun Reserve Player of the Year award.

Fletcher broke into the Manchester United team during the 2003–04 campaign, playing a number of important matches and starting in United's FA Cup Final win over Millwall in May 2004.[20]Despite a slow start to the 2004–05 campaign, in which in the early part of the season he made very few competitive appearances, Fletcher again broke into the United first-team. On 1 January 2005, Fletcher scored his first goal at club level in a 2–0 win over Middlesbrough.[21]

Fletcher was one of the players singled out for criticism by club captain Roy Keane in the wake of United's 4–1 defeat to Middlesbrough in October 2005.[22] Keane reportedly said, "I can't understand why people in Scotland rave about Darren Fletcher." However, Keane later attempted to set the record straight stating, "If you listen to any of my comments over the last two or three years, if I've given any player credit over the years it would be Fletch. Fletch will tell you that himself."[23] Fletcher went some way towards answering his critics on 6 November 2005, with his performance in the vital league match at home to Chelsea, scoring the only goal of the game with a looping header.[24] His winning goal ended Chelsea's 40-match unbeaten run in the Premier League.[24]

In 2006–07, at the start of the season Fletcher retained a place in the first-team but only on the bench and scored in an away win over Charlton Athletic,[25] as well as scoring the headed winner in the away game with Middlesbrough in December[26] and another headed goal in the home win against Charlton in February, making it a double against the club that season.[27] As the season progressed, Alex Ferguson preferred the midfield quartet of Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs, limiting Fletcher to a few substitute appearances. However, with Scholes absent through suspension, he made a starring appearance in United's 7–1 win over Roma in the Champions League quarter-final.[28]

In the 2007–08 season, with the further arrival at the club of fellow central midfielders Owen Hargreaves and Anderson and winger Nani, Fletcher played even less than he did during the previous season. As before, Ferguson preferred Carrick, Scholes, Giggs and Ronaldo to him in midfield, and got even less playing time than the new arrivals. He did, however, put in some stalwart performances when given the chance, including two goals in the 4–0 defeat of Arsenal at Old Trafford in the FA Cup fourth round.[29] Fletcher picked up a Champions League winner's medal but was an unused substitute in the final.[30]

Fletcher playing for Manchester United

In the 2008–09 season, Fletcher started the first two games, due to injuries to Carrick and Ronaldo, and scored against Newcastle United at Old Trafford in United's first Premier League match of the season, forcing a 1–1 draw after Obafemi Martins' goal.[31] Fletcher notched his second goal of the season opening the scoring from close range against Portsmouth, following a pass from Patrice Evra. He was later shown a yellow card on the 93rd minute before the match ended 1–0.[32] On 3 October 2008, Fletcher signed a three-year extension to his contract with Man Utd, keeping him at the club until 2012.[33] Fletcher notched his third goal of the season against Everton on 25 October.[34] He then scored in the Club World Cup semi-final against Gamba Osaka on 18 December after coming off the bench.[35]

Fletcher, September 2009

In the Champions League semi-final second leg against Arsenal on 5 May 2009, Fletcher was shown a red card ruling him out of the Champions League Final.[36] There were calls for this decision to be overturned,[37] but apart from mistaken identity, there is no appeal procedure for red cards in UEFA competition.[38] Manchester United launched an appeal with UEFA to have the semi final red card overturned on 'compassionate' grounds on 7 May 2009,[39] but this was rejected on 11 May.[40] Then Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho commented on Fletcher's absence; "Fletcher is more important than people think. His work in midfield, especially in the midfield 'wars', in crucial matches is very important. Man United will miss his pace and aggression in defensive actions: he 'eats' opponents in defensive transition. I believe Xavi and Andres Iniesta are happy Fletch is not playing."[41]

The 2009–10 season saw Fletcher consolidate his place in the heart of the United midfield, starting all of United's important games. He opened his scoring account for the season with a double in the first Manchester derby of the season, a memorable 4–3 victory for United, twice putting United ahead before Michael Owen scored in the sixth minute of added time. He was presented with the Barclays Man of the Match award for his performance.[42] On 21 November 2009, Fletcher scored his third of the season, hitting a half volley from the edge of the area into the top corner giving United a 1–0 lead against Everton in a 3–0 win.[43] This season also saw Fletcher and fellow midfielders Michael Carrick and Park Ji-Sung deputise in defence due to an injury crisis that left Patrice Evra being the only fit regular in defence.[44][45] They still managed to keep a clean sheet against West Ham United[44] and concede only one goal against Bundesliga champions Wolfsburg in the Champions League.[46] Fletcher was sent off during the match against Birmingham City on 9 January 2010 after two bookable offences.[47] On 10 March, he scored the fourth goal in a 4–0 win in the second leg of United's last 16 Champions League tie with AC Milan, making the score 7–2 on aggregate.[48] This was his first goal in the Champions League.[citation needed] Following this, Fletcher captained United for the first time in the league match against West Ham[citation needed] and was later[when?] confirmed as United's vice-captain.[citation needed] In April, Fletcher capped a successful season with selection in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year.[49] On 9 May, the last day of the season, Fletcher scored the first goal of a 4–0 win at home to Stoke City.[50]

Fletcher made his first start of the 2011–12 season in United's first group stage match on 14 September 2011 in the Champions League away at Benfica, which ended in a 1–1 draw.[51][52] This was Fletcher's first start for a number of months after being sidelined towards the end of the 2010–11 season with illness, revealed in December 2011 to be ulcerative colitis.[7] He made his first Premier League appearance of the season four days later in a 3–1 home win against title rivals Chelsea.[53] Fletcher maintained his place in centre midfield in the following Premier League games against Stoke[54] and Norwich.[55] On 23 October, he scored the consolation goal in a 6–1 defeat to local rivals Manchester City,[56] with a curling shot into the top corner.[57]

Fletcher made his 300th career appearance for Manchester United on 5 November in a 1–0 home win against Sunderland.[58] Fletcher scored United's second goal in a 2–2 draw with Benfica on 22 November in the Champions League. He met Patrice Evra's cross at the first attempt, which the goalkeeper got a hand to and he followed it up on the second attempt to score.[59] Following this match and he announced that he would be taking an extended break from football following medical advice about his ongoing ulcerative colitis.[7] He did not play again in the 2011–12 season.[60]

On 14 August 2012, Fletcher came on as a second-half substitute, taking the captain's armband, for Manchester United against Aberdeen in Neil Simpson's testimonial. He played his first competitive match in 10 months, coming on as a substitute for Paul Scholes in the 78th minute in Manchester United's 1–0 win over Galatasaray at Old Trafford in the Champions League.[8] On 24 November, Fletcher scored his first goal since his illness, a header from a Wayne Rooney corner against Queens Park Rangers. On 17 January 2013, it was announced that Fletcher had undergone surgery aimed at resolving his condition, which would rule him out for the remainder of the season. The statement stressed that this was a "planned procedure undertaken at the optimal time" that required Fletcher to be in good health to be carried out.[9] In his May 2013 retirement speech following his final match at Old Trafford as Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson wished Fletcher a speedy recovery and return to football.[61] A week later, it was revealed that his surgery had been a success and that Fletcher was on course to return to football in July 2013.[62]

On 15 December 2013, Fletcher made his first appearance for nearly a year when came on as a substitute for Ryan Giggs in a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa.[63] Another substitute appearance followed in the 2–0 League Cup win against Stoke City on 18 December, and on 26 December 2013, Fletcher made his first league start for 390 days in a 3–2 win away to Hull City.[64]

International career[edit]

Fletcher has established himself as a regular choice for Scotland and scored his first goal in a 1–0 win over Lithuania, having come off the bench for only his second cap.[65] His goal took Scotland to the play-offs for Euro 2004 On 26 May 2004, he captained Scotland to a 1–0 friendly win against Estonia in Tallinn. This made him the youngest Scotland captain since John Lambie of Queen's Park led the side that beat Ireland 7–2 on 20 March 1886. Lambie was aged just 17 years and 92 days.[15][66]

Fletcher's improvement for his national side was capped by a 25-metre strike in an October 2005 World Cup qualifier against Slovenia.[67] Fletcher was Scotland's vice-captain under Alex McLeish, deputising in the absence of regular captain Barry Ferguson. Fletcher was named as full-time captain in November 2009 when Ferguson was banned from international football for misbehaviour.[68][69]

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list (Scotland's goal tally first)
Goal Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 11 October 2003 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Lithuania 1–0 1–0 Euro 2004 qualification
2. 30 May 2004 Easter Road, Edinburgh  Trinidad and Tobago 1–0 4–1 Friendly
3. 12 October 2005 Arena Petrol, Celje  Slovenia 1–0 3–0 2006 World Cup qualification
4. 2 September 2006 Celtic Park, Glasgow  Faroe Islands 1–0 6–0 Euro 2008 qualification
5. 3 September 2011 Hampden Park, Glasgow  Czech Republic 2–1 2–2 Euro 2012 qualification

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Europe Other[nb 1] Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Manchester United 2002–03 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 0
2003–04 22 0 5 0 2 0 6 0 0 0 35 0
2004–05 18 3 3 0 3 0 5 0 1 0 30 3
2005–06 27 1 3 0 4 0 7 0 41 1
2006–07 24 3 6 0 1 0 9 0 40 3
2007–08 16 0 1 2 0 0 6 0 1 0 24 2
2008–09 26 3 3 0 1 0 8 0 4 1 42 4
2009–10 30 4 0 0 3 0 7 1 1 0 41 5
2010–11 26 2 2 0 1 0 7 1 1 0 37 3
2011–12 8 1 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 10 2
2012–13 3 1 0 0 2 0 5 0 10 1
2013–14 12 0 1 0 3 0 2 0 0 0 18 0
Total 212 18 24 2 20 0 66 3 8 1 330 24

Statistics accurate as of match played 11 May 2014[70]

International[edit]

Scotland national team
Year Apps Goals
2003 4 1
2004 9 1
2005 7 1
2006 7 1
2007 7 0
2008 6 0
2009 6 0
2010 7 0
2011 5 1
2012 3 0
2013 0 0
2014 1 0
Total 62 5

[71]

Honours[edit]

Club[edit]

Manchester United

International[edit]

Scotland

Individual[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Fletcher was born and grew up in Dalkeith, Scotland.[15][72]

He is the father of twin boys, Jack and Tyler (born 2007) with his wife, Hayley Grice.[73][74] The couple married in early June 2010.

Fletcher was one of many footballers in the Manchester and Liverpool area whose homes were burgled while playing away games; burglars raided his house in February 2009 and held Grice at knifepoint.[75] The incident occurred while Fletcher was in Milan for Manchester United's Champions League fixture against Internazionale.

Fletcher's father was caught speeding in Fletcher's Range Rover on the M6 motorway in Cumbria on 27 November 2008. As the owner of the car, Fletcher was ordered to identify the driver of the car, but he failed to do so and was summoned to Penrith Magistrates' Court in January 2010. After a hearing, Fletcher received six penalty points on his driver's licence, a £650 fine and was ordered to pay £900 in costs.[76]

Fletcher is involved in a programme to encourage "Deaf Friendly Football" for youngsters. The programme is run by the Manchester United Foundation and the National Deaf Children's Society.[77]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Includes other competitive competitions, including the FA Community Shield, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup

References[edit]

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  6. ^ "Darren Fletcher – A Squad". ScottishFA (Scottish Football Association). 15 January 2011. Retrieved 15 January 2011. 
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  8. ^ a b "Darren Fletcher ovation pleases Alex Ferguson". BBC Sport. 19 September 2012. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  9. ^ a b "Darren Fletcher: Manchester United man out until summer". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 17 January 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
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  53. ^ "Man Utd 3–1 Chelsea". BBC Sport. 18 September 2011. Retrieved 30 January 2012. 
  54. ^ "Stoke 1–1 Man Utd". BBC Sport. 24 September 2011. Retrieved 30 January 2012. 
  55. ^ "Man Utd 2–0 Norwich". BBC Sport. 1 October 2011. Retrieved 30 January 2012. 
  56. ^ "Man Utd 1–6 Man City". BBC Sport. 23 October 2006. Retrieved 30 January 2012. 
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  59. ^ James, Stuart (22 November 2011). "Manchester United's future in doubt after Benfica snatch worthy point". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 30 January 2012. 
  60. ^ Murrells, Katy (13 December 2011). "Darren Fletcher takes 'extended break from football' due to illness". guardian.co.uk (Guardian News and Media). 
  61. ^ "Sir Alex Ferguson gives emotional farewell speech". Give Me Football.com. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  62. ^ "Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher raring to go following successful bowel surgery". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  63. ^ Winter, Henry (15 December 2013). "Aston Villa 0 Manchester United 3: match report". The Telegraph (Telegraph Media Group). Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  64. ^ Burrows, Ben (26 December 2013). "Darren Fletcher handed first Manchester United start in 390 days against Hull City". Mirror Online (Trinity Mirror). Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
  65. ^ "Scotland battle past Lithuania". BBC Sport. 11 October 2003. Retrieved 2 January 2010. 
  66. ^ "Sat 20 Mar 1886 Ireland 2 Scotland 7". London Hearts. Retrieved 27 November 2006. 
  67. ^ "Slovenia 0–3 Scotland". BBC Sport. 12 October 2005. Retrieved 30 January 2012. 
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  69. ^ "Darren Fletcher will be my Scotland skipper from now on, says George Burley". Daily Record. Retrieved 23 November 2009. 
  70. ^ Endlar, Andrew. "Darren Fletcher". The Website of Dreams. StretfordEnd.co.uk. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  71. ^ "Darren Fletcher – A Squad". Scottish Football Association. Retrieved 18 January 2011. 
  72. ^ "Scotland captain Darren Fletcher: It's scary to think I'm on the same number of caps as legends like Denis Law and Billy Bremner". Daily Record. 6 September 2011. Retrieved 30 January 2012. 
  73. ^ "Scotland hopes". Sunday Herald (Newsquest). Archived from the original on 10 October 2008. Retrieved 20 January 2008. 
  74. ^ Umair, Ahmed (17 June 2010). "Darren Fletcher marries Hayley Grice". Soccerlens.com. Retrieved 17 June 2010. 
  75. ^ Walker, Peter (24 February 2009). "Robbers held knife to throat of Darren Fletcher's fiancee during raid". guardian.co.uk (Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 8 March 2009. 
  76. ^ "Motoring fine for Man Utd footballer Darren Fletcher". BBC News. 29 January 2010. Retrieved 31 January 2010. 
  77. ^ Northcroft, Jonathan (8 March 2009). "Darren Fletcher: out of the shadows". Times Online (Times Newspapers). Retrieved 8 March 2009. (subscription required)

External links[edit]