A footballing son of Hartlepool is set to have his face beamed around the world over the next 10 months as the Premier League’s big kick-off arrives this weekend.
Steve Fletcher, who started his career at Pools, went on to become Bournemouth’s record league appearance maker, and had a stand at the club’s ground named after him in 2010.
A 4ft image of the former striker’s head sits on top of the stand at Bournemouth’s Dean Court, and when it was erected, the club sat in the fourth tier of English football.
However, the Cherries’ incredible rise led to promotion to the Premier League for the coming season, and they will kick off their campaign at home to Aston Villa on Saturday.
The promotion means the face of Fletcher, 43, will feature on worldwide TV footage of arguably the most-watched football league in the world.
Fletcher, from Hartlepool, has been hailed as a ‘great ambassador’ for the town.
Steve is a great ambassador for the town, and proved to be an absolute hero at BournemouthPhil Dunn
Phil Dunn, the spokesperson of Hartlepool United’s Supporters’ Trust, said: “Steve was a good young player for Pools, and we could see he was turning into a big, strong striker before he even left the club in 1992.
“He did the town proud during his career.
“He’s a great ambassador for the town, and proved to be an absolute hero at Bournemouth.
“He certainly made a name for himself during his playing days, and it will be great to see him get some sort of worldwide recognition when his face is beamed all over the world.”
A Hartlepool United spokesperson said: “We’re delighted to see someone who is from Hartlepool and who began his career at Victoria Park being given the spotlight in the Premier League.
“We would like to wish Steve and Bournemouth all the best for their upcoming top-flight campaign.”
At the time of the stand unveiling, Fletcher, who remains at Bournemouth in their scouting department, said: “Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the stand named after me.
“I was absolutely honoured, very humbled and very proud when I heard about it. It is one of those occasions when it makes any person lost for words. It is an honour, and something you never think will happen to you when you start playing football.”