When you’re a kid, those first big role models are so important and a good teacher can leave a lasting impact on your life. For Manchester United star Ella Toone, one of those first important figures was her Regional Talent Club and youth coach, Emma Fletcher.
Emma Fletcher was the RTC and academy coach who mentored the Man United Women‘s all-time leading goalscorer through the age groups as she developed and playing a key role in ensuring the team had a future in the years it was disbanded (2005-2018), bringing through the likes of current captain Katie Zelem, Millie Turner, Toone and many more.
Sadly, Emma suffers from Huntington’s Disease, a nerve cell disease which affects the brain and is now limiting her ability to work. Nevertheless, the inspiring coach continues to graft for the United Foundation to this day, helping develop girls football at a grassroots level across Greater Manchester.
With that in mind, Tooney thought it was only right to honor Emma properly and pay her back for all her support throughout her formative years by delivering her a surprise her at Eccles Sixth Form College and helping raise more awareness surrounding Huntington’s Disease in the process.
Ella Toone surprises her old coach Emma Fletcher to deliver some heart-warming news ❤️ pic.twitter.com/nRLP31mRRI— Sky Sports WSL (@SkySportsWSL) May 11, 2023
As the 23-year-old England star explains, Emma has been working for United’s RTC for over 22 years, looking after and believing in so many young girls like her, not to mention stressing the importance of women’s game from day dot. More importantly, not once has she let her condition hold her back.
“Right from the very start, since I was six or seven years old, she’s always been there, she’s
always believed in me, she’s always pushed me”, adding, “For me, Emma’s always wanted the best for everyone she’s worked with and that was fighting for a Manchester United women’s team.”
The Tyldesley-born forward went on to insist that Fletcher has always been “very vocal” about United Women’s and advocating for women’s sport, making her a been a big part not only of her own journey but “the history of the club” as well.
As a result, not only was the United coach treated to a surprise visit by her old pupil but Ella was also given the great privilege of informing her childhood inspiration that that the female Academy Player of the Year would now be named after her. Well deserved, Emma.
Reacting to the news, Emma said: “I’m just blown away, can’t believe it. It’s an unbelievable surprise.
“I think I’ve got one of the best jobs in the world. We’ve got the best girls’ development programme, I’d say in the world now, I’d go as far as saying that. I’m really, really proud.”
Although it is considered a relatively rare disease, it is estimated that more than 6,700 individuals are currently living with Huntington’s Disease in the UK alone and even more could potentially carry the gene which causes it occur between age 30-50, so raising greater awareness is crucial.