Fletcher reveals big influences
Darren Fletcher has told Sky Sports about who has helped him reach his Scotland milestone.
Last Updated: 07/09/10 9:56pm
Scotland captain Darren Fletcher has told Sky Sports about who has helped him reach his international milestone.
The Manchester United midfielder is preparing to win his 50th cap for his country in Tuesday night's Euro 2012 qualifier against Liechtenstein at Hampden.
And in an exclusive interview with David Tanner, Fletcher revealed how the late Tommy Burns helped the 26-year-old establish himself in a hugely-successful United side and in May 2004 become Scotland's youngest captain since a 17-year-old John Lambie in 1886.
Fletcher also talks about:
- How he got interested in the game as a youngster in Dalkeith
- The influence scout Andy Berry and his father had on his career
- The Republic of Ireland's attempts for Fletcher to represent them rather than Scotland.
Fletcher has a photo from when he met Burns during the 1996/97 season as a promising 12-year-old and their paths crossed many times before Burns passed away in May 2008, aged 51.
"At that time Tommy was Celtic manager," said Fletcher. "I went to go and watch Celtic and train with them.
"It was one of the best Celtic teams I've ever with (Jorge) Cadete, (Pierre) van Hooijdonk and (Paolo) Di Canio. Tommy Burns had this fantastic style of play and they were the players I really looked up to and idolised at the time.
"Then when I got called up for my country (2003) under Berti Vogts, Tommy was the assistant manager and he was fantastic. He always had a smile on his face and passed on a few words to me.
"One time he let me know in no uncertain terms that it was Team Scotland and not Team Darren Fletcher, which really hit home. I was maybe a young lad moaning about what position I was playing and it's something like that which really stuck in my mind.
"Most of the time he was fun - he nutmegged me in Wales as well, in training the night before the game (February 2004). Then we came down for dinner that night and on repeat in the background on the big screen was Tommy Burns nutmegging me in training so he reminded me of that every time I met him.
"He passed on a lot of good advice. He'd always pull you to the side and say things about playing as a midfielder, being a great midfielder that he was."
As Fletcher has Irish family, the Republic of Ireland made overtures for him to represent them rather than the country of his birth.
But despite team-mate and United legend Roy Keane asking Fletcher to consider switching his allegiance, he insists it was never a serious possibility.
"I never really came close, to be honest," Fletcher added.
On the radar
"Roy Keane was the Ireland captain at the time and as he always did, he wanted the best for his country and was looking out for its future, and he said he'd been asked by people in the FAI to ask if I wanted to represent the Republic of Ireland.
"They'd been asking me since I was 16 anyway so it was nothing new. But it was never going to be that case.
"Although I've got great respect (for Ireland), had many a great time in Ireland and have great family in Ireland, I was born and brought up in Scotland and always wanted to represent Scotland."