It's hard to believe a decade has passed since a tall, pale young man graced the pitch for the first time against Basel in the UEFA Champions League on 12 March 2003.
A product of the Manchester United Youth Academy, Darren Fletcher was to become the youngest player to appear in the Red Devils first team on 14 May 2000 against Aston Villa. However, this was not to be, as it was a violation of a Premier League rule prohibiting players on schoolboy contracts from playing in the senior team.
His big moment finally came three years later, and even though he only appeared twice for United in his first season, it was one to remember as he managed to earn his first cap for Scotland.
In his second season, Fletcher proved he was good enough to play for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side on a regular basis. His performance against the mighty Arsenal in the FA cup earned him a start in the final against Millwall, where he got his first taste of silverware. His first goal came soon after on 1 January 2005 in a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough.
In the years that followed Darren regularly featured in Ferguson’s rotation, playing over 300 matches for the Red Devils throughout his career. The solid performances he put in for United helped him become full-time captain of Scotland in November 2009. Fletcher has earned 61 caps for his national team.
In December 2011 Darren was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a virus that has kept him off the pitch for the most part of his last two seasons. However, he has recently undergone surgery to solve this problem, and even though he's been ruled out for the rest of the season, we might see more of him in the future.
Even though criticised at times, the Scotsman's never-say-die attitude and strong work ethics are the reason he's still at Old Trafford. So far he has won four Premier League titles, two League Cups, an FA cup, a Champions League title and a FIFA Club World Cup with United. Fletcher was also included in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year for the 2009/10 season.
There is no doubt that a player of his quality could help United in the years to come. The 29-year-old central midfielder is a born winner and a fighter. Hopefully he'll be back in action soon enough.
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