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For the retired American baseball player, see Darrin Fletcher
Darren Barr Fletcher (born 1 February 1984, Dalkeith, Scotland) is a Scottish footballer who plays for English Premier League club Manchester United. He is a product of United's youth academy. He usually plays in central midfield but has played or right midfield or to provide cover for the defence. The industrious player also captained the Scotland national team in the absence of then regular captain Barry Ferguson, making Fletcher one of the youngest players ever to captain Scotland at full international level. With Ferguson banned from international football after a breach of regulations, Fletcher was given the captain's armband in August 2009.
Fletcher has been at Manchester United for his whole career coming up from the youth team. He joined Manchester United as a trainee in July 2000 and he signed a professional contract in February 2001. 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. However, his first few seasons at the club were marred by injury, and as he developed came to be viewed more as a central midfielder.
Fletcher broke into the Manchester United team during the 2003–04 campaign, playing a number of important matches and starting in United's 2004 FA Cup Final win over Millwall in May 2004.
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.
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. 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." 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. His winning goal ended Chelsea's 40-match unbeaten run in the Premier League.
In 2006–07, at the start of the season he retained a place in the first team but only on the bench and scored in an away win over Charlton Athletic, as well as scoring the headed winner in the away game with Middlesbrough in December and another headed goal in the home win against Charlton in February, making it a double against the club that season. 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.
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 Tra
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