FOOTBALLER Darren Fletcher has spoken out about his battle with ulcerative colitis and his fight back to fitness.

The Manchester United midfielder spoke at the launch of United for Colitis in aid of Crohn’s and Colitis UK, and described how debilitating the illness was since being diagnosed with the chronic bowel disease in 2011.

The 30-year-old Scot said: “I stayed silent at first because it’s not something you generally talk about. My close family and friends knew but nobody else knew at the club.

“I found it difficult making up stories for reasons why I wasn’t at training, why I was looking ill, why I was feeling ill, why I was rushing off to the bathroom. Basically, lying to people’s faces.

“You can be running off to the toilet 10, 20 or even 30 times a day and losing a lot of blood.”

In December 2011 Fletcher stated he would be taking a break from the club in order to recover, and eventually underwent surgery in 2013.

He admits that playing the game he loves has always provided a welcome distraction.

“Playing football gave me a release. When I was playing I forgot I had colitis. Even during training I had no problems.”

Fletcher has said that whilst he’s happy to be back after successful surgery, he wants to be more than a bit-part player.

“I want to be playing every game, being an important part of the team, playing for Scotland, winning trophies and achieving success.”

United for Colitis will host a gala dinner at Old Trafford on March 27. For more information visit