Cookstown-born Aaron Hughes has been signed by Australian based football club, Melbourne City, ahead of the upcoming A-League season.
The Northern Ireland international defender joins Melbourne City FC on a one-year deal and began pre-season training on Monday with his new teammates at the City Football Academy in Melbourne.
Speaking for the club website on signing with the A-League side, Hughes said: “For me it’s a great opportunity to come and experience something new from having my whole career in England.”
A versatile defender, who can play in any position across the back four, Hughes, 35, began his career at English Premier League club Newcastle United, making 205 appearances in total after making his debut as an 18-year-old.
Hughes has a wealth of experience in English football with spells at Aston Villa, Queens Park Rangers and most recently Brighton, he enjoyed a successful six and a half-year spell with Fulham and was an integral part in the club’s run to the UEFA Europa League final in 2010.
Since making his international debut in 1999, Hughes has since earned 96 caps for Northern Ireland, just behind Pat Jennings.
Melbourne City FC coach John van ’t Schip says Hughes’ vast experience at the top level will provide a welcome boost to the club’s defensive unit.
“Aaron is an extremely experienced professional and is an excellent addition to our squad,” van ’t Schip said.
“He brings with him a vast amount of Premier League and international experience which will be of great benefit to the team and his qualities will greatly strengthen our defence,” the Dutch coach went on.
Commenting on the move Hughes said: “I guess I’ll just try and approach every game in the same way. Concentrate, try not to make mistakes and just be consistent.”
Hughes acknowledged the influence of former Fulham team-mate Damien Duff when deciding to join the club, and is hoping to help the team improve of last season’s semi-final finish.
Hughes said: “I played with Damien Duff [at Fulham] and he spoke highly of not just the club but the people as well and said the whole experience was fantastic.
“Everything about this place ticked all the boxes for me on a personal level and I’m really looking forward to it.
“I just want to come in here and have a good season, be solid and contribute what I can to the team. Hopefully we can improve and go even further this year” added the popular Cookstown native.