Former Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher has lifted the lid on his Red Devils career and the “hostile” rivalry with Leeds United.
The current West Brom and Scotland captain spent the first 20 years of his career at Old Trafford, winning four Premier League titles, two League Cups, an FA Cup and a Champions League trophy – but it is the latter competition that he wishes he could have had better success in.
“It was always the Champions League games,” Fletcher revealed in an exclusive with Mantality Magazine and serialised with TEAMtalk.
“We made it to the final in 2011 – and I came back for the second leg of the semi and got a place on the bench for the final, but that was another year of my unlucky streak of missing Champions League finals (Fletcher was an unused substitution in United’s 2008 win over Chelsea in Moscow).
“My dream was to play in a Champions League final and I’ve been on the bench for two but never on the pitch. I got wrongfully red carded in the semi-final in 2009 too and missed that one as well. That one game, I’ve just not managed to get onto the pitch.”
Fletcher looks back very fondly on his time with Manchester United and one rivalry in particular brings a wry smile.
“I think my second ever away game for Manchester United was against Leeds,” he recalls.
“It still sticks in my memory as one of the best atmospheres. It still rings as one of the most hostile environments I’ve played in. The rivalry between United and Leeds is big.
“It’s amazing how it’s stuck with me after all these years. Leeds is such a massive club –and they should be in the Premier League, and hopefully they’ll get back to it one day because it’s another great rivalry for Manchester United.
“It’s a big club, loaded with a great Scottish connection – everyone in Scotland knows about Leeds United.”
Mantality Magazine is an online platform created by Leeds Rhinos star Stevie Ward. Its main focus is to provide content encouraging millennial males to get the most from life. The niche of the magazine is the section of ‘Mind’.
It has a big push for awareness of mental health, expansion of the comfort zone through travel, vigour, mind and lifestyle content.
Check out the second part of the interview with Darren Fletcher here on TEAMtalk on Friday.