Football - Howe tribute as Fletcher calls time

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has hailed Steve Fletcher's effect on the club after the popular forward called time on his career and a 20-year affiliation with the south-coast club.

PA Sport

Fletcher, 40, confirmed the end of his playing career this week after scoring over 100 goals during two spells with the club and Howe was full of praise for his long-time friend and colleague.

"It's really difficult to put into words my feelings for the big man and what he has done for this football club," Howe told the club's official website.

"We played alongside him and we knew what a key component he was to all Bournemouth teams down the years.

"I remember him making my job so much easier as a centre-half - he made me look like a good player a lot of the time really!"

When Howe took over as manager of the Cherries in 2009 his first move was to bring Fletcher back and the striker went on to play a pivotal role in keeping the club in the Football League, despite a 17-point deduction.

The following season Bournemouth went one better and gained promotion to League One and, despite being less involved on the pitch, the success of Fletcher's overall input was not lost on his manager.

"Coming back the second time, although he didn't play such a huge role on the pitch he was absolutely key off it, keeping the lads motivated and grounded," Howe added.

"He has been a brilliant servant to the football club, he has been a really good ambassador off the pitch to promote the club's name and we just wish him well now in his next chapter."

Fletcher made 728 appearances, comfortably the most by any Bournemouth player and has expressed a desire to stay at Dean Court in some capacity.

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