Who was Fletcher's most talented team-mate?

Saturday 11 March 2023 09:00

When asked to name the most talented United team-mate he played with, during 12 years within the first team, Darren Fletcher could not decide between two midfield greats.

The Scotsman, who is still at the club as United's technical director, celebrates 20 years since his senior debut on Sunday (12 March), and recently sat down with our matchday programme, United Review, for a reflective interview.
Within a wide-ranging chat, Fletch was quizzed on the most talented players he saw on a football pitch – both in the red shirt of United and among the many high-profile opposition teams he faced during his extensive stint at Old Trafford.
When it came to legendary United figures, Darren could not look past two of our most iconic Academy graduates...
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“Straight away Scholesy springs to mind,” responded the five-time Premier League winner. “I think everyone always mentions Scholesy, and rightly so. But for me Giggsy as well.
“To play for that long, day in, day out... to watch him evolve and change his game from a flying winger, to play beside him in central midfield and control games as a midfielder, to play as many games as he did in the first team for such a long period...
“Giggsy had his testimonial before I had even made my debut and then I went on to play 10 years with Giggsy! That just shows you how amazing he is. So when you talk about legends and special players. Giggsy is right up there.”
And what about opposition players? 
During his years as a Red, our former no.24 faced countless greats, from Lionel Messi to Karim Benzema, Francesco Totti, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and many more.
But a Brazilian playmaker, famous for his years with AC Milan, is the first name on Fletcher's lips.
Fletch's expression says it all: Kaka was absolute mustard at Old Trafford in April 2007.
“I played against some wonderful players, but I do remember Kaka over two legs of a Champions League semi-final [in 2007]. He was the difference between the two teams. 
“He was on a level above and, before his injuries, a world-class player who I thought to myself: 'Yeah that was a proper player.' He was a real difficult match-up [to play] against. I always reference back to Kaka.
“Not long after he left for Real Madrid and got that knee injury, but [during] that period at AC Milan I thought he was the best player in the world.”

You can read more from Fletcher's interview in the Southampton issue of United Review and in the latest edition of Inside United, both of which are available online, and at Old Trafford on Sunday.