Former Newcastle United star secures key new role after historic appointment

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The former Magpies defender will have a wide range of responsibilities in his new position.

Former Newcastle United defender Aaron Hughes has landed a new role as the Irish Football Association’s first ever Technical Director.

The 112-times capped former Northern Ireland international famously made his Magpies senior debut in a Champions League group stage tie against La Liga giants Barcelona in 1997 and went on to become a regular feature of United sides over the following seven years.

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Despite starring at centre-back and in centre midfielder on one occasion in a UEFA Cup tie against Roma, Hughes established himself as Sir Bobby Robson’s first-choice right-back between 2001 and 2004 and helped the Magpies return to the European football’s elite competition with consecutive third and fourth placed finishes. There was some sadness when Robson’s successor Graeme Souness allowed the United academy product to leave St James Park in a cut-price move to Aston Villa at the end of the 2004/05 season.

Hughes spent two seasons with Villa before enjoying a productive seven-year spell with Fulham as he became a popular and dependable figure at Craven Cottage. As he moved into the veteran stage of his career, Hughes spent short stints with Queens Park Rangers, Brighton and Hove Albion, Melbourne City and Kerala Blasters, before ending his playing days with Scottish club Hearts.

He will now return to the international setup with Northern Ireland in a new role that will see the former Magpies star oversee ‘the continuous improvement of elite football through the creation of a high performance culture in a wide-ranging role covering men’s and women’s football”. Hughes will work alongside the FA’s senior leadership team and will also play a part in appointing successor to Ian Baraclough after he left his role as manager of the Northern Ireland senior men’s team last month.

Discussing his new role, Hughes said: “This is an exciting time for the Irish FA and I am eager to get started in playing a key role in all areas of our operation. People often underestimate the reach of the Irish FA. We are central, along with our partners and stakeholders, to shaping people’s lives through football and I am looking forward to making a positive contribution at every level of the footballing pyramid.”

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Irish FA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson added: “Aaron has demonstrated his considerable talents to the organisation since he joined us as a consultant last year. His relentless drive to push for high standards across the entire performance pathway, rooted in his deep experience gained at the top end of the professional game, will help the organisation flourish even further. He will be a key contributor to a range of major developments set out in our current strategy, A Roadmap for Football.”

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