Darren Barr Fletcher (born 1 February 1984) is a Scottish football coach and former professional player who is currently the technical director of Manchester United, where he spent the majority of his playing career. He mostly played as a central midfielder, but began his career as a right winger and also featured occasionally in defence.
Fletcher came through the ranks of Manchester United’s Youth Academy and spent 20 years with United, making 342 appearances for the club. With them, he won five Premier Leagues, one FA Cup, two League Cups, the UEFA Champions League, four FA Community Shields and the FIFA Club World Cup. Fletcher was included in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year for 2009–10. He was named vice-captain in his last season with the club. He joined West Bromwich Albion in February 2015, where he made 97 appearances. After leaving Albion in 2017, Fletcher had a two-year stint with Stoke City. He returned to Manchester United in a coaching capacity in October 2020, working with the club’s under-16s players, before being appointed to the first team in January 2021.
Fletcher made his full international debut for Scotland in 2003, and scored his first international goal on his second appearance. The following year, he played as the team’s youngest captain for over a century. After Barry Ferguson was banned from international football because of a breach of regulations, Fletcher was given the captaincy on a full-time basis in August 2009. In total he won 80 caps and scored 5 goals for Scotland.
The middle of Fletcher’s career was disrupted by an extended break from football due to health problems caused by ulcerative colitis. Between November 2011 and December 2013, he played only ten times for his club, undergoing an operation in early 2013 to lessen the effects of the condition after a failed return in September 2012.
Fletcher was born in Dalkeith and raised in Mayfield near Edinburgh. He was educated at St Luke’s RC Primary School and St David’s RC High School in Dalkeith.
Fletcher played his youth football at Hutchison Vale, Tynecastle Boys Club and Celtic Boys Club before being scouted by Manchester United. He first joined the Manchester United youth setup at the age of 11, and then signed with the club when he was aged 15. Fletcher said in 2020 that he had almost signed for Newcastle United instead, as some people advised him it would be harder to break into the Manchester United first team.
He progressed quickly with Manchester United, and could have become the youngest player ever to appear in their first team when he was selected in their squad for the final fixture of the 1999–2000 FA Premier League season, against Aston Villa on 14 May 2000. This plan was stymied as Premier League rules prohibited players on schoolboy contracts from appearing at the senior level, and his debut was delayed. He had been part of the reserve team that won the Manchester Senior Cup in 1999–2000. Fletcher was initially seen as a right midfielder, similar to David Beckham, and was tipped by many to break into the first-team with ease and stay there for many years to come. As he developed he came to be viewed more as a central midfielder.
Over the next couple of seasons, Fletcher’s involvement was limited due to various injuries, including a broken foot. Nevertheless, by the 2002–03 season, he had become a regular member of the reserve team, and after several appearances as an unused substitute, he finally made his first-team debut on 12 March 2003 – almost three years behind schedule – starting on the right side of midfield against Basel in the second group stage of the UEFA Champions League. He was substituted for David Beckham after 73 minutes, but a second Champions League appearance followed against Deportivo de La Coruña a week later, and he was named as a substitute for both legs of the quarter-final tie against Real Madrid. For his performances for the reserve team during the 2002–03 season, Fletcher received the Denzil Haroun Reserve Player of the Year award.
Fletcher broke into the Manchester United team during the 2003–04 campaign, playing a number of important matches and starting in United’s FA Cup Final win over Millwall in May 2004. Despite a slow start to the 2004–05 campaign, in which in the early part of the season he made very few competitive appearances, Fletcher again broke into the United first-team. On 1 January 2005, Fletcher scored his first goal at club level in a 2–0 win over Middlesbrough.
Fletcher was one of the players singled out for criticism by club captain Roy Keane in the wake of United’s 4–1 defeat to Middlesbrough in October 2005. Keane reportedly said, «I can’t understand why people in Scotland rave about Darren Fletcher.» However, Keane later attempted to set the record straight stating, «If you listen to any of my comments over the last two or three years, if I’ve given any player credit over the years it would be Fletch. Fletch will tell you that himself.» Fletcher went some way towards answering his critics on 6 November 2005, with his performance in the vital league match at home to Chelsea, scoring the only goal of the game with a looping header. His winning goal ended Chelsea’s 40-match unbeaten run in the Premier League.
In 2006–07, at the start of the season Fletcher retained a place in the first-team but only on the bench and scored in an away win over Charlton Athletic, as well as scoring the headed winner in the away game with Middlesbrough in December and another headed goal in the home win against Charlton in February, making it a double against the club that season. As the season progressed, Alex Ferguson preferred the midfield quartet of Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs, limiting Fletcher to a few substitute appearances. However, with Scholes absent through suspension, he made a starring appearance in United’s 7–1 win over Roma in the Champions League quarter-final.
In the 2007–08 season, with the arrival at the club of fellow central midfielders Owen Hargreaves and Anderson and winger Nani, Fletcher played even less than he did during the previous season. As before, Ferguson preferred Carrick, Scholes, Giggs and Ronaldo to him in midfield, and got even less playing time than the new arrivals. He did, however, put in some stalwart performances when given the chance, including two goals in the 4–0 defeat of Arsenal at Old Trafford in the FA Cup fourth round. Fletcher picked up a Champions League winner’s medal but was an unused substitute in the final.
In the 2008–09 season, Fletcher started the first two games, due to injuries to Carrick and Ronaldo, and scored against Newcastle United at Old Trafford in United’s first Premier League match of the season, forcing a 1–1 draw after Obafemi Martins’ goal. Fletcher notched his second goal of the season opening the scoring from close range against Portsmouth, following a pass from Patrice Evra. He was later shown a yellow card on the 93rd minute before the match ended 1–0. On 3 October 2008, Fletcher signed a three-year extension to his contract with Man Utd, keeping him at the club until 2012. Fletcher notched his third goal of the season against Everton on 25 October. He then scored in the Club World Cup semi-final against Gamba Osaka on 18 December after coming off the bench.
Fletcher in September 2009
In the Champions League semi-final second leg against Arsenal on 5 May 2009, Fletcher was sent off, ruling him out of the Champions League Final. Manchester United appealed to UEFA to have the red card overturned on compassionate grounds on 7 May 2009, but this was rejected on 11 May. Then-Inter Milan coach José Mourinho commented on his absence: «Fletcher is more important than people think … he ‘eats’ opponents in defensive transition. I believe Xavi and Andrés Iniesta are happy Fletch is not playing.»
The 2009–10 season saw Fletcher consolidate his place in the heart of the United midfield, starting all of United’s important games. He opened his scoring account for the season with a double in the first Manchester derby of the season, a memorable 4–3 victory for United, twice putting United ahead before Michael Owen scored in the sixth minute of added time. He won the Man of the Match award for his performance. On 21 November 2009, Fletcher scored his third of the season, hitting a half volley from the edge of the area into the top corner giving United a 1–0 lead against Everton in a 3–0 win. This season also saw Fletcher and fellow midfielders Michael Carrick and Park Ji-sung deputise in defence due to an injury crisis that left Patrice Evra being the only fit regular in defence. They still managed to keep a clean sheet against West Ham United and concede only one goal against Bundesliga champions Wolfsburg in the Champions League. Fletcher was sent off during the match against Birmingham City on 9 January 2010 after two bookable offences. On 10 March, he scored the fourth goal in a 4–0 win in the second leg of United’s last 16 Champions League tie with AC Milan, making the score 7–2 on aggregate. Following this, Fletcher captained United for the first time in the league match against West Ham and was later confirmed as United’s vice-captain, a position he held until December 2014. In April, Fletcher capped a successful season with selection in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year. On 9 May, the last day of the season, Fletcher scored the first goal of a 4–0 win at home to Stoke City.
Later years and illness
Fletcher made his first start of the 2011–12 season in United’s first group stage match on 14 September 2011 in the Champions League away at Benfica, which ended in a 1–1 draw. This was Fletcher’s first start for a number of months after being sidelined towards the end of the 2010–11 season with illness, revealed in December 2011 to be ulcerative colitis. He made his first Premier League appearance of the season four days later in a 3–1 home win against title rivals Chelsea. Fletcher maintained his place in centre midfield in the following Premier League games against Stoke and Norwich City. On 23 October, he scored the consolation goal in a 6–1 defeat to local rivals Manchester City, with a curling shot into the top corner.
Fletcher made his 300th career appearance for Manchester United on 5 November in a 1–0 home win against Sunderland. Fletcher scored United’s second goal in a 2–2 draw with Benfica on 22 November in the Champions League. He met Patrice Evra’s cross at the first attempt, which the goalkeeper got a hand to and he followed it up on the second attempt to score. Following this match, he announced that he would be taking an extended break from football following medical advice about his ongoing ulcerative colitis. He did not play again in the 2011–12 season.
On 14 August 2012, Fletcher came on as a second-half substitute, taking the captain’s armband, for Manchester United against Aberdeen in Neil Simpson’s testimonial. He played his first competitive match in ten months, coming on as a substitute for Paul Scholes in the 78th minute in Manchester United’s 1–0 win over Galatasaray at Old Trafford in the Champions League. On 24 November, Fletcher scored his first goal since his illness, a header from a Wayne Rooney corner against Queens Park Rangers. On 17 January 2013, it was announced that Fletcher had undergone surgery aimed at resolving his condition, which would rule him out for the remainder of the season. The statement stressed that this was a «planned procedure undertaken at the optimal time» that required Fletcher to be in good health to be carried out. In his May 2013 retirement speech following his final match at Old Trafford as Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson wished Fletcher a speedy recovery and return to football. A week later, it was revealed that his surgery had been a success and that Fletcher was on course to return to football in July 2013.
On 15 December 2013, Fletcher made his first appearance for nearly a year when he came on as a substitute for Ryan Giggs in a 3–0 victory over Aston Villa. Another substitute appearance followed in the 2–0 League Cup win against Stoke City on 18 December, and on 26 December 2013, Fletcher made his first league start for 390 days in a 3–2 win away to Hull City. He was named Manchester United vice-captain by Louis van Gaal in August 2014.
West Bromwich Albion
On 2 February 2015, Fletcher signed for West Bromwich Albion on a free transfer. He made his debut on 8 February 2015 against Burnley, where he was given the captain’s armband. He scored his first goal for the club on 11 April 2015 against Leicester City, although the Baggies lost 3–2. Between his debut for West Brom in February 2015 and the international break of October 2015, Fletcher did not miss a minute of Premier League football, marking fully his comeback from several illness-disrupted seasons.
He scored his second goal for West Brom on 28 December 2015, in a 1–0 win against Newcastle United. Fletcher had to wait until the 2016–17 season for his next Premier League goal to come. It finally came in a 4–0 win against Burnley on 21 November 2016. He scored his second goal of the 2016–17 season on 21 January 2017, in a 2–0 win against Sunderland. A game against Stoke City, on 4 February 2017, marked his 300th game in the Premier League. Former manager Sir Alex Ferguson hailed him as a «fantastic professional and fantastic human being.»
On 1 June 2017, Fletcher signed a two-year contract with Stoke City, effective from the expiration of his West Bromwich Albion contract on 1 July. He made his debut on 12 August as the team began their season with a 1–0 loss at Everton, playing the full 90 minutes. Local newspaper The Sentinel praised his passing in the match. Fletcher started in the first nine games of the 2017–18 Premier League season for Stoke, extending a streak of consecutive league appearances to 100. He became the eighth outfield player to achieve this mark in the Premier League era. Fletcher scored his first goal for Stoke in a 1–0 win away at Watford on 28 October 2017. Fletcher played 29 times in 2017–18 as Stoke suffered relegation to the EFL Championship.
Fletcher struggled for playing time in 2018–19, making 11 appearances under Gary Rowett and then Nathan Jones. He scored the only goal of the game against Bristol City on 27 October 2018. Fletcher left Stoke at the end of the campaign.
After leaving Stoke, Fletcher began studying for coaching qualifications. He said in November 2019 that he had not officially retired from playing, and did not yet feel ready to begin a career in management. In May 2020 he acknowledged that he «probably» wouldn’t play again, and said that his medical condition (ulcerative colitis) meant that he would be at higher risk from COVID-19.
Fletcher established himself as a regular choice for Scotland during the 2003–04 season. He scored his first goal in a 1–0 win against Lithuania, having come off the bench for only his second cap. His goal took Scotland to the play-offs for UEFA Euro 2004. On 26 May 2004, he captained Scotland to a 1–0 friendly win against Estonia in Tallinn, making him the youngest Scotland captain since 17-year-old John Lambie in 1886. Fletcher scored with a 25-yard strike in a 3–0 win against Slovenia on 12 October 2005.
Fletcher was Scotland’s vice-captain under Alex McLeish, deputising in the absence of regular captain Barry Ferguson. Fletcher was named as full-time captain in November 2009 when Ferguson was banned from international football for misbehaviour.
Fletcher earned his 50th cap in September 2010, in a UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying match against Liechtenstein. His bouts of illness interrupted his international career, which meant that Scott Brown assumed the captaincy. Fletcher was recalled to the international squad for a friendly against Poland in March 2014. He resumed the captaincy in September 2016, after Brown had temporarily retired from international football.
In November 2019, Fletcher said he aspired to a future in management. In October 2020, Fletcher returned to Manchester United to coach their under-16s players, and in January 2021, he was promoted to first-team coach. In March 2021, he became the technical director at Manchester United.
Style of play
Fletcher usually played as central midfielder in a box-to-box role, where he stood out for his physicality, tenacity, intelligence, and work-rate, as well as his energy and defensive ability, namely his tackling and marking. He was capable of playing anywhere in midfield, however, and also played as a right winger, in a holding role, and on occasion in defence; at international level, he also played in a more attacking role, due to his ability to get forward, which earned him comparisons with Steven Gerrard. In 2009, Terry Butcher described Fletcher as a «complete midfielder, a rare all-rounder and although he’s a slightly different player to Roy Keane, he can become as great.» He likened Fletcher to Bobby Charlton, noting that he «can get games by the scruff of the neck and inject pace and tempo,» also adding that «[h]e understands the game, reads it well, is improving all the time and United rely heavily on him.» While Fletcher was initially criticised in the media for his poor positional sense, a lack of creativity in his game, and his tendency to give possession away carelessly early on in his career, he underwent a technical and tactical development, which enabled him establish himself successfully in a deeper midfield role, from which he could dictate the tempo of his team’s play in midfield with his passing; his playing style in this position was influenced by one of his idols, Fernando Redondo.
In May 2020, former teammate Rooney cited Fletcher as an important member of the successful 2006–09 United side, describing him as being as «vital» to the team as himself, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Carlos Tevez, and saying he sacrificed his own individual acclaim for the team.
Fletcher was born and grew up in Mayfield, Midlothian.
He is the father of twin boys, Jack and Tyler (born 2007) with his wife, Hayley Grice. The couple married in early June 2010.
Fletcher was one of many footballers in the Manchester and Liverpool area whose homes were burgled while playing away games; burglars raided his house in February 2009 and held Grice at knifepoint. The incident occurred while Fletcher was in Milan for Manchester United’s Champions League fixture against Inter Milan.
Fletcher’s father was caught speeding in Fletcher’s Range Rover on the M6 motorway in Cumbria on 27 November 2008. As the owner of the car, Fletcher was ordered to identify the driver of the car, but he failed to do so and was summoned to Penrith Magistrates’ Court in January 2010. After a hearing, Fletcher received six penalty points on his driver’s licence, a £650 fine and was ordered to pay £900 in costs.
Fletcher is involved in a programme to encourage «Deaf Friendly Football» for youngsters. The programme is run by the Manchester United Foundation and the National Deaf Children’s Society.
In 2014 Fletcher became an ambassador for the charity Crohn’s and Colitis UK after recovering from surgery for ulcerative colitis.
- Scotland score listed first, score column indicates score after each Fletcher goal.
|1||11 October 2003||Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland||2||Lithuania||1–0||1–0||UEFA Euro 2004 qualification|||
|2||30 May 2004||Easter Road, Edinburgh, Scotland||8||Trinidad and Tobago||1–0||4–1||Friendly|||
|3||12 October 2005||Arena Petrol, Celje, Slovenia||20||Slovenia||1–0||3–0||2006 FIFA World Cup qualification|||
|4||2 September 2006||Celtic Park, Glasgow, Scotland||25||Faroe Islands||1–0||6–0||UEFA Euro 2008 qualification|||
|5||3 September 2011||Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland||55||Czech Republic||2–1||2–2||UEFA Euro 2012 qualification|||
- Premier League: 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2012–13
- FA Cup: 2003–04
- Football League Cup: 2009–10
- FA Community Shield: 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010
- UEFA Champions League: 2007–08
- FIFA Club World Cup: 2008
- Denzil Haroun Reserve Player of the Year: 2002–03
- PFA Premier League Team of the Year: 2009–10
- Scottish FA International Roll of Honour inductee: 2010
- West Bromwich Albion Player of the Year: 2015–16
- List of Scotland national football team captains
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- ^ Northcroft, Jonathan (8 March 2009). «Darren Fletcher: out of the shadows». Times Online. Times Newspapers. Retrieved 8 March 2009.(subscription required)
- ^ Ornstein, David (5 February 2014). «Fletcher ‘very fortunate to be here’«. BBC Sport.
- ^ «Games played by Darren Fletcher in 2002/2003». Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
- ^ «Games played by Darren Fletcher in 2003/2004». Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
- ^ «Games played by Darren Fletcher in 2004/2005». Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
- ^ «Games played by Darren Fletcher in 2005/2006». Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
- ^ «Games played by Darren Fletcher in 2006/2007». Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
- ^ «Games played by Darren Fletcher in 2007/2008». Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
- ^ «Games played by Darren Fletcher in 2008/2009». Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
For FIFA Club World Cup: «Gamba Osaka vs. Manchester United 3–5: Summary». Soccerway. Perform Group. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
«LDU Quito vs. Manchester United 0–1: Summary». Soccerway. Perform Group. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
- ^ «Games played by Darren Fletcher in 2009/2010». Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
- ^ «Games played by Darren Fletcher in 2010/2011». Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
- ^ «Games played by Darren Fletcher in 2011/2012». Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
- ^ «Games played by Darren Fletcher in 2012/2013». Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
- ^ «Games played by Darren Fletcher in 2013/2014». Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
- ^ a b «Games played by Darren Fletcher in 2014/2015». Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
- ^ «Games played by Darren Fletcher in 2015/2016». Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
- ^ «Games played by Darren Fletcher in 2016/2017». Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
- ^ a b «Fletcher, Darren». National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmermann. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
- ^ «Scotland vs. Lithuania 1–0: Summary». Soccerway. Perform Group. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
- ^ «Scotland 4–1 Trinidad». BBC Sport. 30 May 2004. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
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- ^ «Scotland vs. Faroe Islands 6–0: Summary». Soccerway. Perform Group. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
- ^ «Scotland vs. Czech Republic 2–2: Summary». Soccerway. Perform Group. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
- ^ «Darren Fletcher: Overview». Premier League. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
- ^ McNulty, Phil (28 February 2010). «Aston Villa 1 — 2 Man Utd». BBC Sport. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- ^ «Man Utd win Community Shield». 10 August 2003.
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- ^ Omstein, David (5 February 2014). «Man United’s Darren Fletcher explains ulcerative colitis illness». BBC Sport. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- ^ Bostock, Adam (4 May 2010). «De Laet’s delight». ManUtd.com. Manchester United. Archived from the original on 13 October 2012. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
- ^ Percy, John (27 September 2016). «Darren Fletcher to be rewarded with new West Brom deal». The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
Anyone who has had their pet go missing knows the heart-wrenching fear and sadness that is mixed with the small hope that their pet will reappear someday. In these 10 stories, the owners got their wishes. They were able to reunite with their lost pets several years after the animals went missing.
10 Nigel The Parrot
A British man named Darren Chick was living in California with his parrot, Nigel. The bird was learning to talk and even adopted Darren’s British accent when it spoke. In 2010, Nigel managed to fly away, and Darren never found him.
Four years later, someone else found Nigel and brought him to a veterinarian. They scanned his microchip and returned him to Darren, but the parrot no longer spoke with a British accent. Somehow, in his four years away, Nigel had learned to speak Spanish.
It turns out that Nigel had been living with the Smith family during all that time. They had purchased him for $400 at a yard sale shortly after he went missing from Darren’s home.
Ruben Hernandez, the 86-year-old grandfather of the Smith family, had formed a special bond with Nigel and renamed the bird Morgan. Ruben had lost his wife, so he dealt with the loneliness by speaking with Morgan instead.
When the parrot flew away from the Smiths’ home, Nigel’s miraculous return to Darren after four years was all over the news. Liza Smith, Ruben’s granddaughter, contacted Darren to explain where the bird had been all that time. Touched by the story, Darren brought Nigel, now officially renamed Morgan, back to the Smith family.
9 Woosie The Cat
Helen and Phillip Johns from Cornwall, England, were devastated when they could not find their seven-year-old cat, Woosie, in 2011. After enough time went by, they decided it was best to accept that he was never coming back.
Unknown to the Johns family, little Woosie had wandered a full 50 kilometers (30 mi) away, stopping at the Ginsters pasty factory. Workers thought that Woosie was simply adorable and decided to adopt him as a sort of mascot. They renamed him George and spoiled him with bits of sausage and assorted meats that are normally stuffed inside the miniature pie’s crust.
Three years later, after living in what seems to be a cat’s version of Heaven, the workers of Ginsters finally decided that it was time for George to visit the veterinarian. They had assumed that he was a stray. But when the doctor scanned the cat for a microchip, the doctor discovered Woosie’s true identity and contacted Phillip and Helen. They happily reunited with their now-chubby cat.
8 Corky The Dog
In 2009, one-year-old Corky, a scruffy little terrier mix, escaped from his kennel in the backyard of his home in Texas. He had been a gift for the young children of the Montez family.
Nearly seven years later in 2016, someone reported seeing two little stray dogs wandering together by the side of a road. Animal control workers picked up the dogs and scanned them for microchips. They were able to contact the Montez family, who reunited with Corky after all those years.
During his time away, Corky had become best friends with a younger, one-eyed dog, which was named Captain by the Montez family. From the dogs’ behavior, it was clear that Corky had looked after Captain like he was a little brother. Corky makes sure that Captain always eats first and protects him by standing guard.
The two dogs most likely survived in the wild by helping one another. With his missing eye, Captain might not have survived without Corky’s help. The Montezes refused to separate these two best friends and welcomed Captain as a new addition to the family.
7 Charlie The Cat
In Hampshire, England, in 2006, Jo and Ade Haigh began to worry when their indoor-outdoor cat, Charlie, did not return home for dinner. They posted signs and searched for the cat all over town for several months. After giving up on ever finding Charlie again, the couple moved to a different town a few miles away.
In 2012, six years after Charlie’s disappearance, life was very different for Mr. and Mrs. Haigh. They were the new parents of twins. Jo’s mother was looking to buy a new house, so Jo took her mother to look at real estate in the old neighborhood where Charlie had gone missing.
Sure enough, Jo spotted a cat that looked exactly like Charlie walking down the street where Jo used to live. She scooped up the cat in her arms and knocked on the door of the nearest house. The man confirmed that the cat was a stray that he occasionally fed, but no one knew to whom the cat belonged.
After taking the cat to the vet, Charlie was scanned for his microchip and his identity was confirmed. It turns out that Charlie had intended to return home after all. He was just a few years late to dinner. Charlie is now strictly an indoor cat.
6 Manuela The Tortoise
In 1982 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Almeida family could not find their pet tortoise, Manuela. While the house was being renovated, construction workers had left the front door wide open for long periods of time as they carried materials inside the house. Manuela’s owners decided that this must have been how she escaped.
Over 30 years later in 2013, the Almeida children were all grown up. The father, Leonel, had passed away. The children were cleaning out his house and opened a storeroom that their dad normally kept locked.
It was filled with his collection of record players, radios, televisions, and other electronics that he would find on the side of the road and claim that he would fix one day. Leonel contained his hoarding habit to this one storage room, only opening the door long enough to add more junk to the piles.
When the children brought the piles of trash out to the front of the house, they discovered that Manuela, the tortoise, was inside one of the cardboard boxes. They immediately brought her to the vet.
He confirmed that the red-footed tortoise can survive for two to three years without eating. The flooring in the house was infested with termites, so they theorize that Manuela had survived by eating the bugs whenever she got the chance.
5 Fuzzy The Cat
In 2010, Michelle Wright of Barrington, New Hampshire, had asked a friend to pet-sit her young cat, Fuzzy. When they began searching for the cat, one of the neighbors told Michelle that a black-and-white cat had been run over and killed nearby. Convinced that the cat must have been Fuzzy, Michelle gave up on the search.
Four years later, Michelle had moved on and gotten new pets. While she was shopping at a local pet store less than 1.6 kilometers (1 mi) from her home, she browsed the section of cats they had for sale. She was shocked to see a cat that was the spitting image of Fuzzy.
As Michelle stared at the cat, she recognized more similarities to Fuzzy. After asking the pet store owner where the cat had come from, he explained that the cat had been picked up on the side of the road. The veterinarian had estimated that the cat was about four years old—the same age that Fuzzy would have been.
Michelle brought in photographs of Fuzzy, including one that showed a unique birthmark on the pad of his paw. After paying the $85 adoption fee, which included all of Fuzzy’s shots and the implantation of a microchip, Michelle was able to bring him home at last.
4 Opie The Horse
In 2002 in San Antonio, Texas, a woman named Michelle Pool was admitted to the hospital to have surgery on her back. Rather than pay the expensive boarding fees for her horse, Opie, she asked her father to watch over her pet while she was recovering.
Her father did not have a stable, so Opie stayed enclosed by a wire fence in his pasture. Someone clipped the metal fence in the middle of the night, led Opie to a horse trailer, and drove away with the stolen horse.
Opie is a Saddlebred Pinto, which is a breed worth anywhere from $1,200 to as much as $15,000. Michelle submitted the case to an organization called Stolen Horse International. Ten long years later, she received a phone call that they had found Opie.
He was allegedly found by a pastor in Dayton, Texas, over 320 kilometers (200 mi) away from where Opie had been captured. According to the pastor’s story, he had seen the horse wandering on the side of the road and just happened to have an empty horse trailer available to bring her home.
Rather than contact the authorities, the pastor tried to sell the horse on Craigslist. A woman was shopping for a horse for her daughter and realized that the horse’s image had popped up on a list of stolen horses. The markings on Opie’s body were so unique that it was clearly the same horse.
The woman reported her suspicions to the authorities. The Dayton sheriff’s department hired a group of contract cowboys to raid the house of the pastor, and they recovered Opie around 2:00 AM the next day. There was not enough evidence to convict the pastor of theft, but Michelle was reunited with her long-lost pet.
3 Suika The Cat
Photo credit: BBC
On March 11, 2011, a tsunami hit the Iwate Prefecture in Japan. A black cat named Suika was swept up in the waves and carried away from her home. Owners Takeo and Kazuko Yamagishi had already evacuated to high ground to survive the tsunami. They did not have time to find their indoor-outdoor cat.
When they returned home, Suika was nowhere to be found. The couple searched for her for three months while their town was recovering from the tsunami. They eventually gave up hope of ever finding her.
Three years later, a couple was hiking in a forest not too far from the Yamagishis’ home. The hikers noticed a black cat curled up in the high branches of a tree. After rescuing the cat, they noticed that her collar had a charm with the name and phone number of the owners. After the Yamagishis received a phone call, they were reunited with little Suika.
We will never know what really happened. But with little else to save her from the rushing tides, there is a good chance that these tall trees probably saved the cat’s life during the tsunami. She most likely returned to them because it was where she felt safe.
2 Reckless The Dog
Dog returns home after going missing 2 years ago
In 2012, the devastating Hurricane Sandy destroyed many parts of the East Coast of the United States. Chuck and Elicia James lived in New Jersey during the storm. The fence in their backyard had become damaged. Their terrier-pitbull mix named Reckless was able to escape.
Chuck and Elicia were heartbroken. They searched for Reckless for several months and finally accepted that he must have died in the storm. After a year and a half, the couple was finally ready to move on and adopt a new dog. They visited a local animal shelter . . . only to see that Reckless was there, waiting for them all this time.
The shelter had renamed him Lucas. According to Chuck, Reckless “jumped three feet in the air” when he saw the couple. Reckless had a telltale scar on the top of his head, which was enough for them to confirm that this was the same dog.
1 Willow The Cat
In Boulder, Colorado, a calico cat named Willow escaped from her home in 2006 when contractors left the door open during renovations. For five years, Jamie and Chris Squires assumed that Willow must have been eaten by a coyote or any of the other predators in the Rocky Mountains.
One can only imagine their surprise when they received a phone call that Willow had been found—in New York City. Over 1,600 kilometers (1,000 mi) away from her home, the calico cat was found walking the streets of Manhattan. Soon after, a veterinarian scanned her microchip.
The Today Show offered to pay for the Squires family’s flight to New York in exchange for an exclusive on the story. Willow became an overnight cat celebrity. No one knows exactly how Willow managed to find herself in The Big Apple, and her journey remains a mystery.
Michael Bloomberg, the then-mayor of New York City, was quoted saying, “Cats reputedly have nine lives, and he clearly wanted to spend at least one of them in New York City.”
Shannon Quinn is a writer and entrepreneur from the Philadelphia area. You can find her on Twitter.
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