Mark Hughes

MARK HUGHES is a former Wales footballer and national team manager who took charge of six clubs in the Premier League, and played for five.

The former forward played 72 times for Wales and won the Premier League title twice with Manchester United. He also represented Chelsea, Southampton, Everton and Blackburn Rovers as a player in England’s top flight.

Born in Ruabon, Wrexham, on November 1, 1963, Hughes joined Manchester United after leaving school in the summer of 1980.

During his playing career he usually operated as a forward or midfielder, and was most noted for two spells at United, but he also played for Barcelona and Bayern Munich, as well as the English clubs Chelsea, Southampton, Everton and finally Blackburn Rovers.

At national level, Hughes scored just 17 minutes into his Wales debut, netting the winning goal against England on May 2, 1984. He went on to play 72 times for his country, scoring 16 times. He retired from playing in 2002.

He won a host of winners’ medals during his playing career, including two Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups and two European Cup Winners’ Cups. He also collected an FA Cup runners-up medal and a League Cup runners-up medal. Hughes was the first player to win the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award twice, in 1989 and 1991.

Hughes was appointed as head coach of the Wales national team in 1999 – his first managerial post. Initially appointed on a temporary basis alongside Neville Southall to replace Bobby Gould, Hughes had soon done enough to earn himself a long-term contract, with Southall eventually leaving the set-up.

When he had taken over Wales were going through a bad patch, but in the five years with Hughes in charge, Wales came close to qualifying for UEFA Euro 2004. In their Euro 2004 qualifying group, Wales ended up second, beating Italy 2–1 in Cardiff in the process, but was denied a place in the final tournament after losing to Russia in the play-offs.
Hughes quit the Welsh national side in September 2004 to take charge of Blackburn in the FA Premier League, the last club he had played for.

He led Rovers to three successive top-10 finishes in the Premier League before taking charge of Manchester City in 2008.

The Citizens finished eighth in the 2008/09 campaign, and the Welshman departed in December 2009.

In the 2010/11 campaign, he took charge of Fulham and led them to eighth place in the table, qualifying for the UEFA Europa League as a result.

Following his resignation from Craven Cottage in the summer of 2011, Hughes was appointed as manager of Queens Park Rangers in January 2012.

He successfully guided the club to Premier League safety in the 2011/12 campaign but left in November 2012, taking a short absence from football.

Hughes was appointed as Tony Pulis’ replacement at Stoke City ahead of the 2013/14 campaign and guided the Potters to ninth place in his first three seasons in charge.

A 13th-place finish followed in 2016/17, and Hughes departed Stoke on January 6, 2018, after more than four years at the club.

He secured a swift return to the Premier League when Southampton named him manager on March 14, 2018, giving him a contract to the end of the season.

After guiding Southampton to Premier League safety two months later, Hughes signed a new three-year deal with the club. However, one win in their opening 14 league matches led to Hughes’ departure from St. Mary’s Stadium in December 2018.

Throughout his career, Hughes was known by the nickname ‘Sparky’ which he took from the comic of the same name. He grew up supporting his home-town club, Wrexham.

Hughes was awarded an OBE in 2004. His daughter, Xenna, is a Welsh hockey international.

Hughes wrote his autobiography in 1990 entitled Sparky – Barcelona, Bayern and Back.

He was voted BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year: 2002.