Former Fulham player, Aaron Hughes has said goodbye to professional football after a career that spanned two decades.
Aaron Hughes has decided to end his time as a football player following Northern Ireland’s 1-0 over Belarus. The defender was not named in the match day squad and at the age of 39, it was time to move on.
Hughes made his debut for Northern Ireland way back in 1998. He went on to represent his country 112 times. Indeed, Aaron Hughes had been a great servant for his country.
As reported by Sky Sports, the Northern Irish defender thanks the country for the support.
“I would like to thank the Northern Ireland fans for the support they have given me, especially in the early years when things maybe weren’t so great on the pitch,” Hughes said.
“Windsor (Park) is such a special place and it has been so good in recent years to see the ground become a fantastic place to watch football, regardless of who you are or where you are from.”
So my professional playing career has finally come to an end and I’m officially retired! Not sure where the time went, but what an incredible journey it’s been. Thank you to everyone who helped and supported me along the way.
I have quite literally lived the dream!
— Aaron Hughes (@AaronHughes18) June 12, 2019
After initially playing representing Newcastle United 200 times, Aaron Hughes then moved on to the likes of Aston Villa and Fulham. In the latter part of his career, he played for the likes of QPR, Brighton and Melbourne City.
Back in September 2011, Hughes announced his retirement. However, he was convinced by Michael O’Neil to return. It was a great decision as it allowed Aaron Hughes to represent Northern Ireland at the 2016 European Championships.
“I would like to thank all the managers who have selected me,” Hughes said.
“Each and every one of them played a role and had a big influence. From Lawrie McMenemy, who gave me my debut, to Sammy (McIlroy) who gave me the armband, right through Lawrie (Sanchez), Nigel (Worthington) and obviously Michael (O’Neill) who has been more than fantastic with me.
“It would be remiss of me not to mention him in a different sort of way. At the stage of my career when I wasn’t playing as much football he still saw a value in me.
“He still saw that I could be a good influence with younger players, and he kept me around and gave me a purpose. He gave me the opportunity to come back, to be in the squad and ultimately to go to a EUROS. For that I will be forever grateful.”
It would indeed be sad to see Aaron Hughes watching Northern Ireland fight for a place at the Euros as a fan.