THE statement released by Olympique Marseille as they unveiled new signing Steven Fletcher was far from the usual anodyne press release ordinarily spewed out by a club on such an occasion.

"He will not leave you unmoved,” the French roared. “He will not go unnoticed. Marseille has added a Scotsman to the mix. And if you know anything about the mentality of that people, you'll know that's good news. He may not be known as a technical player, but he is 1.85m tall."

Fletcher has not gone unnoticed “it’s the beard”, he says and his facial hair in fairness is utterly splendiferous, and he himself has been anything but unmoved, in a literal sense, by the last few months spent on the south coast of France in one of the world’s most football mad, and that word is used advisedly, cities.

“I never realised how big the club was until I went over,” admitted Fletcher as he sat in the Scotland team’s plush HQ of Mar Hall on the banks of the Clyde. “You hear about it but don’t realise how fanatical the support is.

“My first game was against PSG and I’d never seen anything like it in any derby games I’d ever played in. The clubs are so far away from each other but it’s still the biggest game. Our bus was getting rocked before the game and I'm thinking to myself 'what’s going on?'

“Even at the training ground the fans are there. After a game we train the next day at 5pm and are finished by 7.30. But there are 30-40 fans there who invade the training ground with flares and allsorts.

“They come over to me but don’t speak much English so it’s more a case of ‘Fletcher – good!’. One stand is left wing, the other right wing – I leave them to it - and they both fly the Saltire which is great.”

Fletcher is in France because he had been informed by Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce that he was not going to feature much over the rest of this campaign, which led to this short term deal with Marseille, completed only hours before the window shut.

It is, he has discovered, another world. Wearside, Wolverhampton and Burnley were his last port of calls. His new home, a cosmopolitan city where all human life can be found, does rather appeal to the whole family.

There is the climate, of course, and he has a beautiful house with a view to die for. It is not a bad life.

“My kids are outside playing all day and back in Sunderland they couldn’t really do that,” said Fletcher. “For them it’s fantastic and, for me, I’m training and half ten and finished by half 12 so I can’t really complain.

“I’m coming back home and as you can see (he has a tan) I’m sitting in the sun most of the day. Playing games is good for me. It was two games a week for the first month I was there and we were playing at 9pm which was new to me too.

“I was thinking to myself that maybe we should be doing more training; however, they seem to be a bit more relaxed over there although maybe it was down to two games a week and the Europa league.

“At the back of my mind I did kind of thinking I would quite like a move abroad. I knew I was coming out of contract in the summer and had to be open minded about things.

“When I got told that I had three hours to decide on this as the window was closing I spoke to my missus and she was up for it - and I thought ‘why not?”

Why not indeed. The football is also different in an enjoyable way. Fletcher has played in the No10 role so he does haven't to deal with the ball being played "down his throat."

But Marseille are not the club they once were. Nowadays they are mid-table side struggling to win at home in front of France’s most demanding supporters.

However, if you put in a shift, and that is something Fletcher has done since breaking into the Hibernian team as a lanky 17-year-old, the OM faithful will appreciate such commitment.

Fletcher said: “I think the fans take to British players. As soon as you lose the ball you try and get it back. But I don’t think they see that over there very often. I’ve seen that in training too – if a player loses the ball it’s a case of ‘you go and get it back for me!’

“The players who have played in England appreciate that. Lassana Diarra is happy that I’m there to help him win it back.

“We have a lot of young players coming through with great talent, but they are young and struggling a bit with the pressure. It’s maybe good to have players like me with a bit of experience.”

The problem for Marseille and, indeed, this goes for every other French club is that PSG are owned by the Qatar Royal Family who sit on approximately 10 per cent of the world’s oil. It makes for a one-sided league.

“Our fans want something to happen,” said Fletcher. "They want us to be closer. Last season there was only four or five points in it. Now there is about 35.

“That’s a big difference and I think the fans are becoming very frustrated. They see PSG spending all this money and they worry their club are being left behind. But it is a good league, don’t get me wrong, with great young players coming through and I think English Premier League teams are looking at a few of the young guys for that reason.”

Fletcher has no idea where he will be next season. The MLS is an option, as is Marseille and with his 29th birthday only a few days away and his injury problems seemingly behind him, the will not be short of offers. especially as he will be a free agent.

And it would have been remiss not to have asked whether Celtic Park remained a possible destination and if, as stated on the internet so it must be true, he had bought a big hoose in the west end of Glasgow in preparation of his imminent transfer.

"I don’t know what to say about that," said Fletcher with a grin. "I get my keys on Thursday! I think I’ve been linked with Celtic since I was 18 but I’m looking forward to the situation I’m in – although at times it can be scary as well."

But as scary times go, these are some of the more enjoyable for a footballer whose best days may still be ahead of him.