Steven Fletcher explains Dundee Utd move and lifts lid on nearly joining Celtic

Steven Fletcher believes now is the right time to be back in Scotland as he explained his reasoning for joining Dundee United.

Steven Fletcher pictured during last season with Stoke City.
Steven Fletcher pictured during last season with Stoke City.

The 35-year-old former Scotland internationalist has signed a two-year deal with the Tangerines following the expiry of his contract with Stoke City.

Fletcher left Scotland as a 21-year-old Hibs player for Burnley back in 2009 and has since played for Wolves, Sunderland, Sheffield Wednesday and Marseille in France, earning 33 Scotland caps in the process.

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Over the years, he has also been linked with a move to Celtic and he also had other options when United came calling earlier this summer under their new manager Jack Ross.

However, he feels that the time was right to return home.

“I still have the hunger and desire, one hundred percent. I wouldn’t be here otherwise,” said Fletcher, speaking from Dundee United’s summer training camp in Marbella.

“I still love it, I love going out to train and still feel like an 18-year-old.

“People were asking why I was going back to Scotland instead of staying in England but I am at a different stage of my life now.

“I always had it in my head that I’d come up the road because I wanted to get my family settled.

“So I always knew that the time would come eventually.

“I spoke to the gaffer even before he came here, it was a few years ago actually, so I knew he liked me and I like the way he speaks. So when he and Tony (Asghar, the sporting director) got in touch a few weeks ago I knew it would be good for me.

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“I had a few options to stay in England and I still feel I can play down there for a while yet.

“But in my head I want back to Scotland and move on to the next phase of my career.

“I want to get into coaching and hopefully that’s something I can start looking towards.”

Fletcher is aware of the almost annual links to Celtic over the years, although a move to the current cinch Premiership champions never materialised.

He said: “Earlier on in my career when I was linked with Celtic I didn’t have much to do with it.

“At that age you just leave it to agents and all that, only finding things out when they’re pretty much done.

“So I don’t know how close it came in the early ones, but before I signed for Stoke was the closest it came.

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“It didn’t happen in the end and I’ll tell that story one day!

“But I was linked with Celtic a lot over the years – so much I think the Celtic fans were sick of hearing about it.”

Fletcher admitted that he will be expected to be a role model to the youngsters breaking into Ross’ side.

“There is a point in your career when people start listening to you – I think they think ‘he’s old now so I better start giving him the time of day’,” he added.

“That happened for me and I really enjoyed it.

“When you see the improvements in young players, doing the things you’ve advised them to do, it gives you a little buzz.”