EMOTIONAL Cherries legend Steve Fletcher felt “privileged and very humbled” after scooping the Football League’s inaugural Sir Tom Finney Award.
Fletcher, 41, will receive the lifetime achievement gong at The Brewery, London on Sunday night in recognition of his record-breaking service over a 24-year career, predominantly with Cherries
The former striker made himself a firm favourite with the Cherries faithful over two spells and 728 appearances after first signing from hometown club Hartlepool United in 1992.
Later in his career, Fletcher enjoyed spells at Chesterfield and Crawley Town as well as a loan stint with Plymouth Argyle but insisted Dean Court had become his spiritual home.
And the club’s towering talisman, now head of UK recruitment, remains adamant his south-coast odyssey is far from over, despite hanging up his boots last May.
On having his distinguished career recognised, Fletcher told the Daily Echo: “I’m very honoured. I couldn’t believe it when I was told, I thought it was a wind-up.
“It’s something you don’t think will come your way when you start out in football. I am very privileged and very humbled.
“My grandfather played with Tom Finney in the England set-up alongside the likes of Stanley Matthews and Jackie Milburn, who are legends of the game. It has a significant meaning.”
Fletcher revealed there had been one or two dreams he hadn’t realised during his two decades in Dorset but was adamant he had absolutely no regrets.
“I did miss out on a couple of things I wanted to do and one of those was to play in the Championship,” he added.
“But, if I look at the things I did achieve and weigh them up against the things I didn’t, I have still done a million times more than I ever could have dreamt of as a child.
“Breaking the club appearance record, playing at Wembley, scoring in the play-off final at the Millennium Stadium, having a stand named after me – these are dreams when you are growing up.
“I want the club to go on and achieve more and for me to be a part of it, even if it’s just in the background, because it’s the club I love.
“I have spent over half my life down here now and I think that the club holds a special place in everyone’s heart.
“For me, it is my club.
“There aren’t many players who stay at clubs for two or three years these days, so I’m very proud to have stayed at Bournemouth for 20.”