It has been a long and arduous 12 months for Darren Fletcher but he made a return to Manchester United’s first team today when he came on as a second half substitute against Aston Villa.
The 29-year-old has battled against his ulcerative colitis condition that has marred the past few seasons for him and many expected that surgery would end his playing career yet he fought through.
As soon as he started warming up on the side of the pitch, United fans started to chant his name and when he came on, he was cheered by both sets of fans as a testament to the likeable character and football genius that Fletcher is.
Despite being out of action for so long, Fletcher was measured and composed when he came on. In possession, he looked as if he had never been out of action.
DARREN FLETCHER FOOTBALL GENIUS! #MUFC
— Adam McKola (@AdamMcKola) December 15, 2013
Darren Fletcher: football genius.
— Mikey Burke (@mikeybourne) December 15, 2013
Darren Fletcher, football genius.
— Charles & Dan (@TheBusbyBoys) December 15, 2013
Darren Fletcher football genius
— Daz (@dazredarmy) December 15, 2013
“Today was my re-debut, something I’ve waited for,” he said after the game.
“I replaced my first idol (Beckham) back then, I replaced my other idol (Giggs) now.”
Despite this landmark occasion, Fletcher wanted to immediately think about the future and thanked the fans for their support of him.
He continued: “I don’t want to take it easy, I want to get us back to where I know we should be. That’s the biggest motivation for me.
“It really means a lot [fans’ support] and it spurs me on to do well for them.”
Fletcher really is an inspiration. To battle back once from a life changing condition to play top level football once is amazing but to do it twice is phenomenal, something Moyes is understandably happy for him to have achieved.
“It’s great news for Fletcher personally or anybody who has had an illness,” he said before the game.
“Darren has done fantastically well to get himself back in this condition after a few months with the Reserves.
“We were looking for the right time to use him and today is that day.”
Good 3 points!! But most important thing Fletcher back in team!! Well done Darren!!
— David De Gea (@D_DeGea) December 15, 2013
Good win for us today and great away support. Brilliant to have Fletch back out there!
— Ashley Young (@youngy18) December 15, 2013
United need an injection of experience into a midfield that is so poor and Fletcher can be that precisely that.
Welcome back, Darren.