In Profile: Mark Hughes

By SFC Media Thu 15 Mar Mark Hughes
Photo by Getty Images | Mark Hughes

We take a look at new Southampton First Team Manager Mark Hughes's journey to St Mary's with an in-depth look at his career as a player and boss...

Born on 1st November 1963 in Wrexham, new Southampton manager Mark Hughes is taking charge of a Premier League side for the sixth time in his management career.

As a player, the Welshman amassed 72 international caps and played for some of Europe’s top clubs.

Having left school at 16, Hughes joined Manchester United in the summer of 1980, making his first-team debut three years later.

The robust centre-forward, who specialised in scoring spectacular goals – especially volleys – quickly established himself as the leader of the line at Old Trafford, and played a key part in the club’s 1985 FA Cup triumph.

At the end of the following season, Hughes was surprisingly sold to Barcelona, managed by Terry Venables, for £2m.

After one season at the Nou Camp, he spent a year on loan at fellow European giants Bayern Munich, before returning to Old Trafford in 1988, where Sir Alex Ferguson was now in charge.

A club-record signing at £1.8m, Hughes was worth every penny. In his first season, he became the first United player to be voted PFA Player of the Year, before silverware began to flow.

In the early 90s, Hughes picked up two more FA Cups, two Premier League titles and one League Cup, as well as starring in the 1991 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup win over former club Barca, scoring both goals in the final.

Hughes scored three goals in four FA Cup final triumphs in a distinguished career

Hughes hit 116 goals in his second spell at Old Trafford, taking his United total to 163 in 467 appearances, before leaving a legend, for Chelsea, in 1995.

Already in his 30s, age was no barrier for Hughes, who became a key man at Stamford Bridge and enhanced his reputation as a serial winner.

By winning the FA Cup again in 1997, he became only the fourth player in the 20th century to lift the trophy on four occasions.

The following season, his last in west London, he added another League Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup to his collection, before beginning a relationship with Saints, aged 34, that would come full circle 20 years later.

Over the next two seasons, Hughes’s experience helped preserve Southampton’s Premier League status, as he dropped back into a deeper midfield role.

The most memorable of his two goals in the red and white stripes was scored at The Dell against Newcastle in 1999 – a trademark volley from 20 yards that whistled into the top corner.

By this time, Hughes was combining his Saints duties with his first job in management, having been appointed the new Wales boss alongside former international teammate Neville Southall.

Hughes made 60 appearances as a Southampton player between 1998 and 2000

Hughes left the south coast for Merseyside to join Everton in 2000, before finishing his playing career at Blackburn, where he signed off a glittering career with more success – promotion from Division One in 2001 and another League Cup, the last major trophy of his career, in 2002.

Now solely focused on Wales, Hughes came agonisingly close to ending the country’s near-50 year wait to qualify for a major tournament.

Having defeated group winners Italy en route to a two-legged play-off with Russia, the Dragons just came up short as they were beaten by a solitary goal over 180 minutes.

Hughes’s first venture into club management took him back to Ewood Park for his first Premier League job.

In a four-year reign, his 44% win rate remains the best of any Blackburn boss in the top flight since Kenny Dalglish, who famously led the club to the Premier League title.

After successfully avoiding relegation in his debut season, Hughes led Rovers to three successive top-half finishes, three cup semi-finals (including their first in the FA Cup for over 40 years) and into the last 32 of the UEFA Cup.

Success in Europe followed Hughes to Manchester City, recently taken over by Thaksin Shinawatra, who he led to the UEFA Cup quarter-finals in his only full season at the Etihad Stadium.

Astute signings Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta and Nigel De Jong became the backbone of the City team who won the title two and a half years after his departure in December 2009.

Blackburn were cup semi-finalists in each of Hughes's first three seasons in charge 

Next on his CV would be a return to the capital, where Hughes led Fulham to an eighth-place finish in a single season stint at Craven Cottage – still the second-highest league position the club has achieved in its history.

In January 2012, he took up a very different challenge just three miles north as manager of QPR, who had only four wins from 20 league games up to that point. 

Six victories from the remaining 18 matches was enough to preserve their top-flight status, but the team were unable to build on that upturn the following season.

After six months out of the game, Hughes returned to begin the longest tenure of his management career to date, at Stoke, who were yet to register a top-half finish since earning promotion to the Premier League five years previously.

Hughes soon changed that, and was credited with introducing a more attractive style of play as he led the Potters to ninth in the table and a League Cup quarter-final.

Two years later, Stoke were a penalty shoot-out away from reaching the final of the same competition, while chalking up a third successive ninth-place finish.

His last full season at the bet365 Stadium saw a slight dip, as the team finished 13th, while his reign came to an end after exactly 200 games in charge (71 wins) following a shock FA Cup defeat to Coventry. Stoke have won only one of their eight games since.

Today, two decades on from his first arrival as a Saint, Hughes returns with the same mission to help steer the club clear of danger.

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