Leslie Mark Hughes, OBE (born 1 November 1963), is a Welsh former footballer and current manager of Stoke City.
During his playing career he was most noted for two spells at Manchester United, but he also played for Barcelona and Bayern Munich, as well as the English clubs Chelsea, Southampton, Everton and finally Blackburn Rovers. He also made 72 appearances and scored 16 goals for Wales. He retired from playing in 2002.
He won a host of medals during his playing career, including two Premier League title medals, 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.
His reign as Wales manager was his first managerial post; he was appointed in 1999 and remained in the role until 2004. He failed to qualify for a World Cup or European Championship during his five years in charge, although his reign coincided with a marked improvement in results; he came particularly close to securing European Championship qualification in 2004. Hughes then spent four years in charge of Blackburn Rovers guiding them to 6th place in 2005–06. He took charge of Manchester City in June 2008 for a year and a half before spending the 2010–11 season at Fulham.
He joined Queens Park Rangers in January 2012 helping then retain their Premier League status in 2011–12. Despite some high profile signings in the summer of 2012 Rangers began the 2012–13 season in very poor form and Hughes was sacked on 23 November 2012. Hughes was then appointed manager of Stoke City on 30 May 2013.
- 1 Playing career
- 2 Managerial career
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Career statistics
- 5 Honours
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Manchester United (1980–1986)
Born in Ruabon, Wales, Hughes joined Manchester United after leaving school in the summer of 1980, having been spotted by the team's North Wales talent scout Hugh Roberts. However he did not make his first team debut for three years — in a 1–1 draw away to Oxford United in the League Cup, in the 1983–84 season. Like many other United legends, Hughes quickly became a favourite at Old Trafford by scoring on his debut.
When Hughes made his United debut, the club's forward partnership consisted of 27-year-old Irishman Frank Stapleton and 18-year-old Norman Whiteside from Northern Ireland, and breaking up that partnership would not be an easy challenge for Hughes. But Hughes quickly broke into the first team, partnering Frank Stapleton in attack while Norman Whiteside was switched to midfield to partner Ray Wilkins and stand in for the injury prone Remi Moses. The departure of Wilkins to AC Milan at the end of the season saw manager Ron Atkinson decide to use Whiteside as a first choice midfielder, enabling Hughes to keep his place in the first team, and he was rewarded handsomely as he scored 25 goals in 55 games in all competitions as United achieved an FA Cup final victory over Everton. They also finished fourth in the league.
He managed a further 20 goals in the 1985–86 season, where they led until February having won their first 10 league games of the season, before a dismal second half of the season saw them slip into fourth place in the final table. That season saw him score 17 goals in the Football League First Division – it would remain the highest goals tally in a season throughout his career.
Barcelona and Bayern Munich (1986–1988)
In the summer of 1986, Hughes was surprisingly sold to Barcelona for £2 million. The transfer had been agreed just after the turn of 1986 but not made public until the end of the season.
Manager Terry Venables was hoping for him to be a successful strike partner for Gary Lineker, whom he had signed from United's rivals Everton, but Hughes was a disappointment in his only season at Barcelona and was subsequently loaned out to German club Bayern Munich for the 1987–88 season, where he regained his form. On 11 November 1987 he played two competitive matches in one day: firstly he played for Wales against Czechoslovakia in Prague in a Euro 88 qualifier, and he was then driven across the border into Germany to come on as a substitute for Bayern in their 2nd round cup replay victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Hughes was one of many British players who departed to the continent during the mid-1980s to early 1990s, as higher wages, coupled with the opportunity of playing in European competitions after English clubs were barred as a result of the Heysel disaster in 1985, tempted them abroad.
Back to Manchester United (1988–1995)
In May 1988, Hughes returned to Manchester United, now managed by Alex Ferguson, for a then club record of £1.8 million. As he had done in his first spell at Old Trafford, Hughes proved to be a dynamic goalscorer and was a key player for the club over the next seven years.
He was voted PFA Player of the Year in 1988–89, his first season back in England, though United disappointed in the league and finished 11th after an erratic season which had seen them go 10 league games without a win in the autumn but then go on a strong run after the turn of the new year to lift them to third place, only for a late season collapse to drag them down to mid table. He was the very first Manchester United player to be credited with that award despite the accolade being in its 16th season.
A year later, he scored twice as United drew 3–3 with Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final, before a Lee Martin goal in the replay gave United their first major trophy in five years. He was United's top goalscorer that season, scoring 15 goals in all competitions (13 of them in the league).
The following season, Hughes scored both goals against old club Barcelona as United lifted the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. Once again, he was their top scorer, this time with 21 goals in all competitions. He was the joint top scorer in the league alongside Steve Bruce on 13 goals. They also reached the Football League Cup final that year, but United suffered a shock 1–0 defeat to a Sheffield Wednesday side managed by Ron Atkinson, who had been Hughes's manager in his first spell at Old Trafford. He was also voted PFA Player of the Year again this season.
In 1991–92, Hughes suffered the disappointment of missing out on a league title medal as United were pipped to the title by Leeds United, but had some compensation in the form of a League Cup winner's medal. A year after that, he finally collected an English league title medal as United won the first-ever Premier League title. Hughes collected yet more silverware in 1994 as United won the league title as well as the FA Cup, with Hughes scoring in the final. He also scored Manchester United's consolation goal in their 3–1 defeat in the 1994 League Cup Final at the hands of Aston Villa at Wembley in that season. In doing this, he became only the second player (after Norman Whiteside in 1983) to score in the finals of both the domestic cups in the same season. This has since been achieved a third time by Didier Drogba in 2007. Hughes came close to winning both the Premier League and FA Cup again in 1995, but a failure to beat West Ham on the final day of the season and the inability to score an equaliser against Everton in the FA Cup final a year later condemned United to their first trophyless season in six years. The FA Cup final was his last game in a United shirt.
In April 1994, he scored a spectacular equaliser in the final minute of extra time in the FA Cup semi-final against Oldham Athletic, a goal which has been described by many as one of the finest ever scored by any Manchester United player.
1994–95 was Hughes's last season at United as he agreed to join Chelsea in a surprise £1.5 million deal after the end of that season. There had been speculation about his future at United since midway through the season, as the arrival of Andy Cole in January had put his future in the first team under doubt, though he was given a lifeline in the first team after Eric Cantona received an eight-month ban for assaulting a spectator against Crystal Palace just after Cole's transfer. There was also talk that Cantona would be on his way out of Old Trafford, as Internazionale were interested in signing him, but when Cantona signed a new three-year contract Hughes knew that Cantona was likely to be straight back in the side after his suspension finished on 30 September 1995, and knew that his best chance of first-team football would be away from Old Trafford.
Hughes scored eight league goals in 1994–95 (two of them in the 9–0 demolition of Ipswich Town at Old Trafford on 4 March 1995) and managed a total of 12 in all competitions (two in the FA Cup and another two in the European Cup).
By the time of his departure from Manchester United, he was the last player at the club to have been there before the appointment of Alex Ferguson as manager in November 1986.
He left Old Trafford for the second and final time in June 1995 when he was sold to Chelsea for £1 million, in a summer that also saw the departures of players such as Paul Ince (to Internazionale) and Andrei Kanchelskis (to Everton). Ironically, Hughes scored for Chelsea in both of their Premier League fixtures against Manchester United in 1995–96; a 4–1 win for United at Stamford Bridge in October and a 1–1 draw at Old Trafford in early December. He was on the losing side as United beat Chelsea 2–1 in the FA Cup semi-final that season, less than two years after he had scored one of United's goals in their FA Cup final triumph over Chelsea.
Hughes was one of the key players in Chelsea's resurgence as a top club in the late 1990s, forming an potent strike partnership with Gianfranco Zola and helping to freeze out Gianluca Vialli (who became the club's player-manager in February 1998). He put in match-winning performances against Liverpool and Wimbledon in the FA Cup in 1997, and Vicenza in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup a year later, playing a big part in Chelsea's glory in both of these competitions. In winning the FA Cup, he became the only player in the 20th century to win the trophy four times. He ended his Chelsea career with 39 goals from 123 games and was transferred to Southampton for £650,000 in July 1998.
In July 1998, Hughes was signed by Southampton for a fee of £650,000 by manager Dave Jones, as an alternative to injury-plagued David Hirst, who retired within 18 months of Hughes's arrival. Unfortunately, the goals failed to flow and Hughes was pushed back into midfield where his experience helped Southampton maintain their Premier League status.
His two goals for Southampton came against Blackburn Rovers, who he was later to join, and a "memorable volley" at home to Newcastle United on 15 August 1999. Hughes suffered with disciplinary problems throughout his career, and in his first season at The Dell he received 14 yellow cards, a total which has never been exceeded in the Premier League.
Everton and Blackburn Rovers (2000–2002)
When Glenn Hoddle arrived as Southampton's manager, Hughes did not fit into his plans and he left for Everton. He only played 16 times over the course of two seasons for Everton, scoring a single goal against Watford. Hughes left Goodison Park on a free transfer to Blackburn Rovers, moving outside the top division for the first time in his playing career in 2000–01. He played a key rôle in getting Blackburn promoted from Division One in 2001. He also lifted the League Cup with Blackburn in February 2002, before finally hanging up his boots in July 2002 a few months short of his 39th birthday.
His final career goal came in a 2–1 Premier League defeat to Leicester City on 9 April 2002. At the time, he was the second oldest player to score in the Premier League, behind Stuart Pearce. Almost a decade on he is still ranked as third in this category following goals by Teddy Sheringham, who scored his final Premier League goal in December 2006 at the age of 40.
Wales international career (1984–1999)
Hughes was appointed Welsh national coach in 1999. 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 soon 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 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 playoffs.
Blackburn Rovers (2004–2008)
Hughes quit the Welsh national side in September 2004 to take charge of Blackburn Rovers in the FA Premier League, the last club he had played for. His key aim was to keep Blackburn clear of relegation which he succeeded in doing, whilst also taking the club to an FA Cup semi-final for the first time in over 40 years.
In his second season, Blackburn surprised even the most optimistic supporters by finishing inside the top six of the Premier League and qualifying for the UEFA Cup, beating teams such as Chelsea, Manchester United (twice) and Arsenal along the way. After just missing out on the League Cup final, his team sealed their spot in Europe by defeating champions Chelsea 1–0 at home. On 4 May 2006, Hughes and assistant Mark Bowen signed new three-year contracts to remain at Blackburn until the summer of 2009.
Hughes then set about creating a formidable side at Ewood Park. He entered the transfer market, bringing in players such as Benni McCarthy (£2 million), David Bentley (£500,000), Ryan Nelsen (free), Stephen Warnock (£1.5 million), Roque Santa Cruz (£3.5 million), and Christopher Samba (£400,000). Rovers finished 10th in the Premier League in 2006–07, and reached the UEFA Cup round of 32, where they were knocked out by Bayer Leverkusen 3–2 on aggregate. Rovers faced Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final, their third consecutive semi-final since Hughes took charge. The match ended in defeat 2–1. He won the Premier League Manager of the Month award for October 2007, and eventually led Blackburn to a league finish of 7th in 2007–08, Hughes' final season in charge at Ewood Park.
During his spell in charge of Blackburn, Hughes' side was accused of being "over-physical" and "dirty" on multiple occasions and the club finished bottom of the Premier League disciplinary table in all four of Hughes' seasons in charge.
Manchester City (2008–2009)
On 2 June 2008, Manchester City sacked manager Sven-Göran Eriksson. Hughes was reported to be the first choice of City owner Thaksin Shinawatra to replace Eriksson. However, interest was also reported from Chelsea, who had recently sacked their manager, Avram Grant. Blackburn Rovers confirmed on 2 June that they had agreed to allow Hughes to talk to Manchester City. The following day, Blackburn agreed a compensation package for Hughes to take over as manager of Manchester City, and he was appointed as head coach on 4 June 2008 on a three-year contract.
Following the appointment, Manchester City's executive chairman Garry Cook stated that "The Club intends to invest in new players as well as securing the long term services of key members of the current first team squad. Mark has already identified some of the players and backroom staff that he wants to see here at City, and we will begin the process of recruiting them immediately." The players who did arrive were Jo, Tal Ben Haim, Vincent Kompany, Shaun Wright-Phillips returning from Chelsea and Pablo Zabaleta. Hughes first game in charge resulted in a 4–2 loss at Villa Park but was followed up with 3–0 wins against West Ham United and Sunderland.
On 1 September 2008 Manchester City were taken over by the Abu Dhabi United investment group, who made large amounts of transfer funds available to Hughes, allowing City to break the British transfer record and sign Robinho from Real Madrid for £32.5 million. Hughes was very active in the January 2009 transfer window, signing Wayne Bridge from Chelsea, Craig Bellamy from West Ham United, Shay Given from Newcastle United as well as Nigel de Jong from Hamburg. City finished 10th in Hughes' first season with the club, as well as reaching the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup. City's home form was among the best in the league, but their away form was among the worst.
In the summer of 2009, Hughes added the likes of Gareth Barry from Aston Villa, Roque Santa Cruz from Blackburn Rovers, Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Touré from Arsenal to his squad, while Carlos Tevez also joined after his two-year deal with Manchester United expired. In addition, he also signed defenders Joleon Lescott from Everton for a reported £22 million, and Sylvinho, a former Arsenal and double Champions League winner with Barcelona, on a free transfer.
Hughes started the 2009–10 campaign with a 2–0 away win at his former club Blackburn Rovers. A further 1–0 win against another former club Barcelona in the Joan Gamper Trophy at a capacity Camp Nou. was followed up by a 1–0 win against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Eastlands. Hughes's team then beat Crystal Palace in the League Cup 2–0 and Portsmouth 1–0 to maintain a 100% clean sheet start to the season. City continued in good form beating Arsenal 4–2 and West Ham 3–1 either side of a 4–3 derby day defeat to Manchester United, City would then however, go on a run of seven straight draws.
Manchester City beat Scunthorpe United 5–1 and Arsenal 3–0 in the League Cup to reach their first semi-final since 1981. Hughes then led City to their first victory over his former club Chelsea for five years with a 2–1 victory. That last victory was one of only two wins in eleven successive Premier League matches, and Hughes left City before their League Cup two-legged semi-final against Manchester United. He was sacked on 19 December 2009 and replaced by Roberto Mancini.
On 29 July 2010, Hughes became the new manager of Fulham, following the departure of Roy Hodgson to Liverpool. Hughes agreed a two-year contract with the London side and was officially unveiled to the media on 3 August 2010, before his first game as manager on 7 August against Werder Bremen. Hughes was joined at Fulham by his backroom team of Eddie Niedzwiecki, Mark Bowen and Kevin Hitchcock. His first league game in charge of the Cottagers came exactly a week later, when they drew 0–0 at Bolton Wanderers on the opening day of the Premier League season, followed by a resolute display against Manchester United in a 2–2 draw at Craven Cottage.
Draws followed in four of Fulham's next five Premier League games against Blackpool, Blackburn Rovers, Everton and West Ham United, with a solitary 2–1 home win over Wolverhampton Wanderers. This meant that at that stage – including the 7-draw streak at Manchester City before his dismissal the season before – all but two (86%) of Hughes' last fifteen Premiership games had been drawn. The bizarre run, exclusively made up of draws or 2–1 results, continued with 2–1 defeats to Tottenham Hotspur and West Bromwich Albion in the second half of October 2010. At the end of the 2010–2011 season Hughes led Fulham to an 8th placed finish in the league and UEFA Europa League qualification through the Fair Play league.
Hughes resigned as manager of Fulham on 2 June 2011 having spent less than 11 months at the club. Following his departure he said "As a young, ambitious manager I wish to move on to further my experiences". Fulham owner Mohamed Al-Fayed hit back at Hughes for questioning the club's ambition; Al Fayed called Hughes a "strange man" and a "flop" and says he rescued him from becoming a forgotten man after being sacked by Manchester City. In September 2013 Hughes admitted he made a mistake in leaving Fulham when he did.
Queens Park Rangers (2012)
On 10 January 2012, Hughes agreed terms with Queens Park Rangers and signed a two-and-a-half-year contract as their new manager, replacing the recently sacked Neil Warnock. Hughes' first game in charge of QPR came on 15 January 2012, a 1–0 defeat away to Newcastle United. Hughes' first win as QPR manager came on 17 January 2012, a 1–0 victory over MK Dons in a FA Cup third round replay at Loftus Road. His first Premier League victory was on 21 January 2012, QPR beating Wigan 3–1 at home. In January 2012 Hughes brought in two defenders Nedum Onuoha and Taye Taiwo and two strikers, Djibril Cissé and Bobby Zamora. Cissé made an immediate impact scoring on his debut against Aston Villa. However defeats against Wolves, Blackburn and Fulham prevented QPR from pulling themselves away from relegation trouble. Victories over Liverpool, Arsenal, Stoke City, Swansea City and Tottenham Hotspur meant that they went into the final match of the season two points ahead of Bolton Wanderers. They faced Hughes' former club Manchester City at the City of Manchester Stadium who needed a win to secure the Premier League title. Despite scoring twice through Cissé and Jamie Mackie two late goals from Edin Džeko and Sergio Agüero earned Man City a dramatic victory. However Bolton's failure to beat Stoke meant that QPR survived in the Premier League.
In the summer of 2012 QPR brought a large number of high-profile signings with the intent of establishing themselves as a Premier League club. In came Kieron Dyer, Ryan Nelsen, Andrew Johnson, Robert Green, Samba Diakité, Fábio, Park Ji-Sung and Junior Hoilett all before the start of the season. However Rangers's new look squad got off to an awful start as they crashed to a 5–0 home defeat against Swansea City on the opening day of the season. Hughes branded his players performance as "embarrassing". Hughes then signed José Bosingwa, Júlio César and Esteban Granero but saw no improvement in results going twelve matches without victory. He was sacked as manager on 23 November 2012 after the team suffered a 3–1 home defeat to Southampton six days earlier and replaced by Harry Redknapp.
Stoke City (2013–)
Hughes was appointed manager of Stoke City on 30 May 2013 signing a three-year contract taking over from fellow Welshman, Tony Pulis. Speaking after being announced as Stoke's new manager, Hughes admitted that he has a point to prove following his disappointing spell at QPR. Hughes's first task was to release Rory Delap, Mamady Sidibe, Matthew Upson, Dean Whitehead, Carlo Nash and Matthew Lund whilst he gave Jermaine Pennant a new contract. He made his first signing on 28 June 2013 with Dutch international left-back Erik Pieters arriving from PSV Eindhoven for a fee of €3.6 million (£3 million). Hughes first match in charge of Stoke on 17 August 2013 ended in a 1–0 defeat at Liverpool. Hughes' first win as Stoke manager came in his next match as Stoke beat Crystal Palace 2–1 at the Britannia Stadium. This was followed up by a 1–0 win away at West Ham United. On 2 September 2013, transfer deadline day Hughes brought in Austrian forward Marko Arnautović from Werder Bremen, Stephen Ireland on loan from Aston Villa and agreed a pre-contract with American Juan Agudelo. Meanwhile Michael Kightly, Cameron Jerome and Ryan Shotton all departed the club on long-term loans.
Stoke soon lost their early form however and they went through September and October without a league win, picking up just two points and scoring only three goals. Stoke improved in November and December going a run of one defeat in seven matches including a 3–2 win over Chelsea on 7 December 2013. December ended badly for Stoke and Hughes though as they were on the receiving end of a 5–1 defeat at Newcastle United which saw Stoke reduced to nine-men and Hughes himself sent-off.
Throughout his career Hughes has been known by the nickname "Sparky" which he took from the comic of the same name. Hughes grew up supporting his hometown club, Wrexham. He was awarded an OBE in 2004. Hughes has two sons Alex and Curtis and a daughter, Xenna. Hughes wrote his autobiography in 1990 entitled: "Sparky - Barcelona, Bayern and Back".
|Manchester United||1983–84||First Division||11||4||0||0||2||1||4||0||0||0||17||5|
|Manchester United||1988–89||First Division||38||14||7||2||3||0||0||0||3||0||51||16|
|Blackburn Rovers||2000–01||First Division||29||5||5||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||34||5|
|Wales national team|
Scores and results list Wales' goal tally first.
|Mark Hughes – goals for Wales|
|1||2 May 1984||Racecourse Ground, Wrexham||England||1–0||1–0||1984 British Home Championship|
|2||22 May 1984||Vetch Field, Swansea||Northern Ireland||1–0||1–1||1984 British Home Championship|
|3||14 November 1984||Ninian Park, Cardiff||Iceland||2–1||2–1||1986 World Cup qualifier|
|4||30 April 1985||Racecourse Ground, Wrexham||Spain||2–0||3–0||1986 World Cup qualifier|
|5||5 June 1985||Brann Stadion, Bergen||Norway||2–4||2–4||Friendly|
|6||10 September 1985||Ninian Park, Cardiff||Scotland||1–0||1–1||1986 World Cup qualifier|
|7||9 September 1987||Ninian Park, Cardiff||Denmark||1–0||1–0||Euro 1988 qualifier|
|8||1 June 1988||Ta' Qali National Stadium, Valletta||Malta||2–2||3–2||Friendly|
|9||17 October 1990||Ninian Park, Cardiff||Belgium||3–1||3–1||Euro 1992 qualifier|
|10||14 October 1992||Tsirion Stadium, Limassol||Cyprus||1–0||1–0||1994 World Cup qualifier|
|11||17 February 1993||Tolka Park, Dublin||Republic of Ireland||1–0||1–2||Friendly|
|12||28 April 1993||Bazaly, Ostrava||Czechoslovakia||1–0||1–1||Friendly|
|13||2 June 1996||Stadio Olimpico, Serravalle||San Marino||2–0||5–0||1998 World Cup qualifier|
|15||31 August 1996||Millennium Stadium, Cardiff||San Marino||2–0||6–0||1998 World Cup qualifier|
- As of 8 March 2014
|Wales||September 1999||September 2004||41||12||15||14||29.27|
|Blackburn Rovers||15 September 2004||3 June 2008||188||82||47||59||43.62|
|Manchester City||4 June 2008||19 December 2009||77||36||15||26||46.75|
|Fulham||29 July 2010||2 June 2011||43||14||16||13||32.56|
|Queens Park Rangers||10 January 2012||23 November 2012||34||8||6||20||23.53|
|Stoke City||30 May 2013||Present||35||10||11||14||28.57|
- Inducted into English Football Hall of Fame
- The London Gazette: . 12 June 2004.
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