New Hearts signing Aaron Hughes talks Thierry Henry, Wayne Rooney, Northern Ireland, Euro 2016 & missing silverware

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AARON Hughes has amassed over 100 caps for Northern Ireland, graced a European Championships and a Europa League final, played under Kenny Dalglish, Sir Bobby Robson and Roy Hodgson and against the likes of Thierry Henry, Didier Drogba and Wayne Rooney.

But he admits the one thing missing from his glittering CV is the silverware he is determined to now add with Hearts.

The former Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Fulham player brought a massive amount of experience, and a touch of glamour, to the Tynecastle side when he penned a short-term deal earlier this month.

After spells in Australia and in India, where he played for Kerala Blasters, it was a move the 37-year-old admits was designed to keep him in the thoughts of international manager Michael O’Neill, who now will not have far to go from his Edinburgh home to take in Hughes’ club matches.

However, as he prepares to make his Jambos debut in Sunday’s Scottish Cup encounter with Raith Rovers at Stark’s Park, the 104-times capped defender has acknowledged there is something that gnaws away at him when he surveys an incredible 20 years in football.

Hughes, who played in the 2010 Europa League cup final with Fulham, said: “I’ve worked under some great managers and played with some great players and characters. When I do finish and look back, I’ll reflect more on it.

“But I would definitely want some silverware. Out in India we got beat in the final on penalties.

“Even to have won a trophy there – although it might not be viewed as the most glamorous league – it still would have been a trophy and I really wanted to win it. It just didn’t happen.

“Is it the only thing missing from my CV? It probably is. I’ve had a couple of runners-ups but a medal of some sort would be nice.

CHAMPIONS

“When I’m finished, and looking back on all the games and the different things that have happened, it’s knowing that, at one point, yes, we were actually champions of something.

“If you ask any footballer, they would say the same thing.”

Hughes has confessed he has his sights set on prolonging his career until the end of Northern Ireland’s campaign for the World Cup in Russia next year.

The excitement of Euro 2016, where he made three appearances in the finals, convinced the stopper to play on and he could even overtake the legendary Pat Jennings’ 119 caps.

Only when he does finally hang up his boots will the player who made his Newcastle debut against Barcelona in a Champions League meeting in the Nou Camp fully appreciate what he has achieved.

But he insists there has been no sense his new team-mates are at all impressed – and rightly so, he reckons.

Asked to name his toughest opponent, Hughes said: “Thierry Henry. And at that time, with the way Arsenal were playing, they were so free and fluent and so quick as well, they were very difficult to play against.

IMPRESSED

“Drogba was difficult to play against and Rooney, not just for his finishing ability but his movement; I don’t think people realise how good his movement is, he’s actually quicker than a lot of people think.

“Again, I could sit here and reel off a load of players. When you have played as long as I have you’re bound to come up against one or two decent players.

“I think once I have finished I can sit down and start making lists.

“I don’t know [if the boys here are impressed], we haven’t really spoken about it too much.

“If they are they haven’t said anything to me yet!

“At the end of the day, I think things like that are more for afterwards, to look back on and talk about.

“Right now, for Sunday’s game, they are irrelevant, they don’t matter. It’s how I play on Sunday and what happens there.”

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