One of Northern Ireland’s greatest ever players, Aaron Hughes, will be at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park at next week’s senior men’s international challenge match against Luxembourg.
The Green and White Army will have a chance to say thank you to Hughes at half-time when a special presentation will be made to the former international stalwart who won 112 caps for his country over a 21-year period.
Hughes, who captained Northern Ireland 48 times, retired from football in June and recently took on the role of tournament ambassador for the 2020 UEFA European Under-19 Championship.
He made his debut against Slovakia as an 18-year-old in March 1998 when Lawrie McMenemy was manager. He also made his 100th appearance against Slovakia in June 2016.
Hughes had announced his intention to retire from international duty in 2011 but Michael O’Neill convinced him to change his mind, a decision that was ultimately rewarded when Northern Ireland qualified for UEFA EURO 2016. At the tournament he played in three of the four matches, helping Northern Ireland beat Ukraine and reach the knock-out stages.
His club career saw him play for some of the biggest sides in England, including Newcastle United, Fulham, Aston Villa, Queens Park Rangers and Brighton. He also played football abroad representing Melbourne City in Australia and India’s Kerela Blasters. Hughes returned to the UK in 2017 to link up with Northern Ireland assistant head coach Austin MacPhee at Heart of Midlothian and played 32 games for the Edinburgh club.