I was 'immature' when first diagnosed - Darren Fletcher

The Manchester United midfielder missed two years of action due to ulcerative colitis but reveals that he dealt with it poorly in the early stages, telling almost nobody
Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher says that he had to become less "immature" about dealing with his illness in order to save his career.

The Scotland international spent a combined total of nearly two years out of action after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis but has fought back to rebuild his career and, after a run of games under David Moyes, has earned a place back in United's Champions League squad.

Fletcher admitted that he had been "blase" about the condition at first and had lied to the club about the severity of the problem to avoid embarrassment.

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"When I was first diagnosed, I was blase about it, which was quite immature," he said at the launch of United for Colitis, a fundraising initiative for the condition.

"I was a professional footballer at Manchester United. I felt untouchable.

"I started my battle with it in 2010 and ultimately had to have surgery so I could continue my career but I stayed silent about it until 2011.

"Other than the manager [Sir Alex Ferguson], nobody at the club knew. I found it difficult making up stories about why I wasn't at training, looking ill and rushing off to the bathroom.

"I was lying to people. Once I started talking about it, it was such a relief."

Fletcher made his first-team return against Aston Villa in mid-December and has gone on to make eight appearances, starting United's Premier League wins against Hull City and Swansea City in January.