Northern Ireland International Aaron Hughes confirms retirement from footballThu, Jun 13 2019
Northern Ireland defender Aaron Hughes has announced his retirement from football following the Green and White Army’s 1-0 win in Belarus.
The 39-year-old defender retires from football with 112 international appearances to his name – a British record.
However, Hughes did not feature during Northern Ireland’s weekend of action against Estonia and Belarus in Tallinn and Borisov respectively.
His last professional outing came for Hearts against Celtic on the final day of the last SPL game of the season.
"I knew this was coming. I always had it in the back of my mind that this was going to be my last season," Hughes said.
"It's a great way to go, to just be involved with the squad, be around this group of lads and the staff. As I said in there [the dressing room], to see a Paddy McNair goal, I can now retire a happy man."
The centre-back also paid tribute to Northern Ireland's togetherness having been talked out of international retirement by O'Neill in 2012.
"It's been incredible, the last few years. Obviously, the Euros was massive.
"People maybe thought the Euros was a one-hit wonder and had a look at what's coming next. I think, through the World Cup campaign, we proved we could do it again.
“This squad is as good a squad as there has been in my time, if not as good a squad as there has ever been in Northern Ireland.
"There is potential there to go on and achieve big things. It's just been a privilege for me to be around. At this stage of my career, to still be in a dressing-room environment has been special for me.
“It's a nice way to wrap it up - four wins out of four and top of the group. I'll keep my fingers crossed now for the rest of the group."