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Friday 12 Jan 2024
Hughes shares secrets of success with students

Former Northern Ireland captain Aaron Hughes has revealed he dreamt of playing for Italian giants AC Milan.

The revelation came as Hughes, who earned 112 caps for his country, met students who attend the Irish Football Association JD Academy based at Ulster University’s Jordanstown campus.

The former defender shared some of the secrets of his successful career in a Q&A session at Northern Ireland’s only full-time residential academy for young footballers, which helps to prepare elite players aged 15 and 16 for a career in professional football.

He also encouraged the students to work hard, to keep going and have self-belief as he pointed out the academy has already produced nine senior international players since its launch in the autumn of 2019.

His 22-year club career, during which he was never red carded, saw him play in England for Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Fulham, Queens Park Rangers and Brighton and Hove Albion – and in Scotland with Hearts.


Hughes also played overseas, representing Melbourne City in Australia and Kerela Blasters in India. And he captained his country 48 times.

When asked by the students about which team he dreamt of playing for, but never managed to do so, he said he would have loved to have donned the red and black stripes of AC Milan and played at the famous San Siro in Italy’s Serie A.

The former Northern Ireland captain, who hung up his boots in the summer of 2019, was appointed as Technical Director at the Irish FA in November 2022.

As part of his role Hughes focuses on continuous improvement of elite football in Northern Ireland through the creation of a high performance culture.

His wide-ranging remit covers men’s and women’s football. His responsibilities also include overseeing player development and providing strategic guidance to further enhance the sport.