Aaron William Hughes (born 8 November 1979) is a Northern Irish professional footballer who plays for Scottish Premiership side Heart of Midlothian and the Northern Ireland national team as a defender. Hughes plays mainly at centre back, but can also be used at right back or left back, as well as anywhere in midfield. He is renowned for his disciplined defending, having made 455 Premier League appearances without getting sent off, which is the second-most in the history of the league, behind only Ryan Giggs.

He began his career with Newcastle United, making his debut in 1997 and playing 279 games for the club across all competitions. He remained with the club until 2005, when he was transferred to Aston Villa for £1 million, and two years later he was signed by his former international manager Lawrie Sanchez to play for Fulham. He spent six-and-a-half seasons at Fulham, reaching the UEFA Europa League final in 2010. After leaving the club in January 2014, he had brief spells in the Championship with Queens Park Rangers and Brighton & Hove Albion, and abroad with Melbourne City FC and Kerala Blasters FC.

Hughes made his full international debut aged 18 in 1998 and has earned 103 caps for Northern Ireland, the second most in the nation's history, behind goalkeeper Pat Jennings. He captained the national team from 2003 up to international retirement in 2011, but returned to the team the following year and was included in their squad for UEFA Euro 2016.



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