Scotland midfielder Darren Fletcher admits he is hoping to prolong his career after missing nearly two years of football during his battle with ulcerative colitis.
The new Stoke City player’s first team opportunities at Manchester United were restricted between 2011 and 2013 but the 33-year-old proved he had overcome the illness after starting 86 Premier League games for West Brom following his switch from from Old Trafford in February 2015.
Fletcher was delighted to silence the doubters and believes he still has many years ahead of him following a frustrating spell on the sidelines.
Fletcher, who signed a two-year deal with Stoke last month, said: “That’s what I would like to think, touch wood. Although it affected me in other ways, my joints and limbs had a rest for a couple of years and hopefully I can add that to the end of my career.
“Although I’m sitting here at 33, I certainly don’t feel like a battered and worn 33-year-old. Physically I feel great, and I’ve proved that on the back of playing those games at West Brom.
“It’s easy saying it, you have to go out and prove it.
“That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned in football, talking is the easy part and you’re only as good as your last game. It’s a motto I’ve stuck to and keep adhering to.”
Speaking on a Stoke City Facebook Q&A, he added: “I never had any doubts, it’s playing football – it’s something that I’ve always done and it’s probably one of the things I know how to do.
“People doubted it and many people said I wouldn’t be able to do it but I was stubborn and determined to get back playing football, I wouldn’t let anyone tell me otherwise.
“I don’t really look back too much, it’s all about looking forward with my new challenge at Stoke City.”