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Former Fulham defender Aaron Hughes has retired from football

last updated Wednesday 12th June 2019, 1:06 PM

Fulham Football Club

 Fulham defender Aaron Hughes
Fulham defender
Aaron Hughes
Aaron Hughes
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Former Northern Ireland captain and Fulham defender Aaron Hughes has retired from football after his country's Euro 2020 qualifier win over Belarus.

Current skipper Steven Davis said the 39-year-old spoke to the players after the 1-0 victory in Borisov.

Hughes, who did not speak publicly about his retirement, won 112 caps for his country, 48 as captain.

"Aaron spoke to us after the game and he was a little bit emotional, which is understandable," said Davis.

"He has been a huge player for us over many years, such a consistent performer, and he will be remembered as a proper legend.

"Aaron still looks as if he could play on for a couple more years, but if he has made a decision to retire, we've got to respect that and wish him well."

Hughes, who had been expected to retire after the international double header, was not in the matchday squad for the Belarus win.

He parted company last month with Hearts, having made seven appearances for the Scottish Premiership side last season.

The Cookstown-born defender holds the appearance record for a Northern Ireland outfield player and became the first outfield player to win 100 NI caps during Euro 2016.

Hughes' haul of 112 caps leaves him seven him Northern Ireland's record holder Pat Jennings although skipper Davis, who earned his 109th against Belarus, is in line to overtake the goalkeeping legend.

His last Northern Ireland appearances came in last summer's trip to Central America, where he played in friendlies against Panama and Costa Rica.

The defender announced his retirement from international football in September 2011 but was coaxed to reverse that decision by then new manager Michael O'Neill six months later.

Hughes went on to help Northern Ireland qualify for their first major tournament in 30 years as they reached Euro 2016 and he played in three of his country's four matches at the finals in France.

The former Northern Ireland captain made his debut during Lawrie McMenemy's reign as manager in 1998 with his sole international goal coming against the Faroe Islands in 2011.

Fulham statement
Fulham favourite Aaron Hughes announced his retirement from professional football on Tuesday evening.

The defender relayed his decision to his Northern Ireland teammates after their 1-0 win in Belarus.

Now aged 39, Hughes enjoyed a marvellous career, racking up 777 appearances for club and country since his debut for Newcastle United in a UEFA Champions League match against Barcelona at the Nou Camp almost 22 years ago.

After eight seasons in the first team on Tyneside, Hughes headed south to Aston Villa where he spent two years, before moving to London to join Fulham.

Recruited by Lawrie Sanchez in the summer of 2007 having worked together in the national setup, Hughes cost the Club just £1m, which must surely go down as one of our wisest ever investments.

After helping the Whites avoid relegation at the end of what was a difficult campaign, Hughes became the bedrock of an organised, solid side under Roy Hodgson, forming a fantastic partnership with Brede Hangeland at the back.

The pair worked brilliantly together, with the fans soon referring to them as our very own Thames Barrier.

Their styles complemented each other perfectly, and while Hughes wasn’t the tallest of centre-backs, his leap and reading of the game more than made up for it.

Hughes was one of only three ever presents – alongside Mark Schwarzer and Danny Murphy – as Fulham finished in our highest ever position of seventh in the 2008/09 Premier League, which led to European qualification.

Fulham played 19 matches in the Europa League in 2009/10 as we reached the Final against all the odds, with Hughes featuring in 17 of those – starting in Lithuania against FK Vetra in June, and concluding in the Final when Atletico Madrid edged us out in Hamburg 10 months later.

Hughes continued to be a regular at the heart of defence under his namesake Mark Hughes the following season, featuring 43 times and scoring his first goal for the Club against West Ham United.

He departed Fulham in January 2014 having made 250 appearances across a six-and-a-half-year spell.

After leaving SW6, Hughes represented Queens Park Rangers, Brighton & Hove Albion, Melbourne City and Hearts.

Hughes played 112 times for Northern Ireland – a record for an outfield player – with 48 of those caps coming as captain.

He helped his nation reach their first major tournament for 30 years when they qualified for Euro 2016, and he played in three of their four matches in France.

A consummate professional, and just a genuinely nice man, everyone at Fulham would like to wish Aaron all the very best in his retirement.

Source BBC Sport
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