Alastair Grant/Associated Press
Darren Fletcher joined Manchester United when he was 11 years old and made his way up through the ranks at the club. As a teenager, he was tipped to be David Beckham's successor, but he was usually played centrally when he first moved up to the first-team squad.
Having made the breakthrough in the 2003-2004 season, he struggled to fulfill the potential that United fans had been told he had.
Following a dismal 4-1 defeat against Middlesbrough the following season, club captain Roy Keane took to MUTV to slate Fletcher.
“I can’t understand why people in Scotland rave about Darren Fletcher,” Keane said. However, Fletcher used these words as motivation to become a better player, which he later reflected on in an interview with The Daily Mail's Martin Samuel:
Roy was probably the biggest influence on my career. He would come down hard on me if I ever did anything wrong but he made me realise what it meant to be a Manchester United player. I can remember coming in from training one day and checking my mobile phone for text messages. Well, that was it. He absolutely hammered me, all the way into the gym. He was a great influence, really. If Roy had a go at you, he did it because he cared. He was the best captain you could wish for. He would tear you to shreds on the pitch if you gave away the ball, ‘get your effing touch right, effing this, effing that’ but, as soon as you got into the dressing room, it was over. He was a winner. I’ve met dedicated professionals but he had something else.
Fletcher went on to be an important piece of United's central midfield and was a key player during the 2008-2009 season. In the Champions League semi-final victory over Arsenal, Fletcher was wrongly given a straight red card for a tackle on Cesc Fabregas in the box. United were given a footballing lesson from Barcelona in the final, but some United fans always wondered how it might have been different if Fletcher had been playing.