The news regarding Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher and his medical problems is saddening.
The Scotland captain has missed a large amount of football recently with the excuse of a mystery ‘viral illness’.
Manchester United have now announced the true nature of Fletcher’s condition and revealed he will be taking an extended break from football.
The illness he is suffering from is known as ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease.
It is wretched luck for any player to miss playing time through injury, but there seems an even greater injustice when it is something completely unrelated to football, as Fletcher’s problem is.
It does remind us that Premier League stars, who we elevate onto such unrealistic moral and emotional pedestals, are subject to the same ills and ailments as us normal folk.
It is an obvious statement to make but is it not strange to think of Wayne Rooney not being able to play because he has a cold? Or Robin van Persie missing a game because he has a migraine?
Fletcher deserves greater respect and sympathy from us all by the route he had to take to becoming a key squad member at Old Trafford.
The 27-year-old was not a supremely gifted footballer, to whom things came effortlessly; he was technically sound and relied on hard work to further himself.
For many years Fletcher was derided as a sub-par member of Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad, some even ludicrously suggested he was there because he was Scottish.
Never a fashionable member of the successful Manchester United sides over the past few years, Fletcher has come to be a player that Ferguson relies on in big games.
Shortly before his illness began to affect his number of appearances, the Scot had become a regular in the side and his tireless displays in the centre of midfield had led to him becoming one of the most important members of the team.
It seems doubly cruel that a player who could never be accused of being a prima dona or someone who has not fulfilled their potential, is struck down at a time when he appeared to really be coming into the prime of his career.
For the many detractors who have criticised Fletcher in the past, his honours record will be painful reading:
Four Premier League titles, one FA Cup, two League Cups, one Champions League and one World Club Cup.
If the worst were to happen and Fletcher is unable to return, his record would put to shame most other players who have played the game.
While Fletcher’s absence will trouble United greatly due to their current injury problem, Fletcher’s drive and determination will be greatly missed if the Old Trafford side are still challenging for the league come May.
One thing is for sure though, there is no chance that Fletcher will not be doing all he can to return to the full fitness as quickly as possible.