Emlyn Hughes

Emlyn Hughes

Emlyn Walter Hughes, OBE (28 August 19479 November 2004) was an English footballer who captained both the English national side and the much-decorated Liverpool F.C. side of the 1970s.

From Blackpool to Liverpool

Hughes, the son of a Welsh rugby league player, began his footballing life as a marauding midfield player at local club Barrow, and then joined Blackpool, who were then a top-flight side. He made his debut for Blackpool in 1964 and played alongside the likes of Jimmy Armfield and Alan Ball.

In 1967, after just 28 appearances for Blackpool, he signed for Liverpool in the February for £65,000. Manager Bill Shankly was stopped in his car by the police as he drove Hughes to Liverpool for the first time and said: "Don't you know who's in this car? The future captain of England!"

Hughes made his Reds debut in the 2-1 league win over Stoke City at Anfield on the 4 March 1967, he scored his first goal in the 6-0 thrashing of Newcastle United, again, at Anfield on the 26 August the same year.

Hughes settled into the midfield at Liverpool during a transitional period for the club, earning the nickname Crazy Horse after an illegal rugby tackle on Newcastle United winger Albert Bennett. Liverpool didn't win any honours in his first four seasons there but Hughes was seen as a demonstration of the future which Shankly had in mind. His versatility was noticed too - he filled in at left back and central defence, a trait which was spotted by England coach Alf Ramsey in 1969.

Ramsey gave Hughes his debut on the 5 November of that year, playing him at left back in a friendly against Holland in the Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam. England won 1-0. He played in the next game in the same position. Hughes scored his only international goal against Wales; the opening goal of a 3-0 Home International victory at Ninian Park in 1972.

A watershed year

For Hughes, 1970 was a big turning year in his career. After Liverpool were humiliated by lowly Watford in the quarter finals of the FA Cup, Shankly made a decision to clear out much of the aging playing staff which had won two League Championship titles, an FA Cup and reached a European Cup Winners Cup final and recruit new, younger blood to take Liverpool back to the helm of the English game. Hughes, still not 23, survived the cull - as did the likes of Ian Callaghan and Tommy Smith - and a batch of fresh faces which would shape Liverpool's success in the 1970s began to arrive.

Meanwhile, England were about to fly to Mexico and defend the World Cup won four years earlier. Hughes had six caps by the time Ramsey included him in his provisional squad of 27 which flew to South America for altitude-acclimatising friendly games against Colombia and Ecuador. Hughes featured in neither game, but was selected in the final squad of 22. He was the youngest selected by Ramsey, and the only Liverpool player in the squad.

Hughes was one of only two outfield players (along with Nobby Stiles) who didn't feature in any game as England progressed to the quarter finals where they were defeated by West Germany. Question marks were raised about Ramsey's substitution decisions during the game, with much attention paid to the decisions to withdraw Bobby Charlton and Martin Peters in the second half, but then to let first choice left back Terry Cooper remain on the pitch for the whole 120 minutes when he was clearly exhausted, rather than allow his natural replacement Hughes to take over. Hughes would ultimately never feature at a World Cup.

The 70s

If Hughes' long international career would prove to be unfulfilled, his club career was about to hit every height there was. In 1971, Liverpool reached the FA Cup final, losing 2-1 after extra-time to Arsenal, who completed the then-rare 'double' of League title and F.A. Cup. Hughes was seen being barely able to control his devastation as he collected his losers' medal, upon which ITV commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme remarked: "Emlyn Hughes there, really absolutely sick."

Hughes soon established a reputation for charging upfield from his defensive midfield position on long, complicated runs, and constantly berating referees. As a footballer, he had his share of both admirers and critics - some said he was a great player, others said he was a good player in a great team.

He was still a full back for England, featuring regularly in Ramsey's team. Hughes played as England's interest in the 1972 European Championships ended at the two-legged quarter final stage, with West Germany again victorious.

In 1973, Hughes won his first League Championship title with Liverpool FC and his first European honour with the UEFA Cup. He scored both goals in a memorable win over Merseyside rivals Everton at Goodison Park, and also became captain after Tommy Smith had a publicised falling-out with Shankly, who nonetheless kept him in the team. Smith and Hughes' relationship soured as a consequence, although it never affected their football.

At this stage of Hughes' career, there was a low with England to go with a high with Liverpool. In October 1973, Ramsey selected Hughes to be left back as England entertained Poland at Wembley. Victory would guarantee a place at the 1974 World Cup finals. Anything else would take Poland through.

England dominated the match but were denied constantly by the charmed antics of Polish goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski. Then Poland had a breakaway after a misplaced tackle by Norman Hunter in the second half, and only Hughes and goalkeeper Peter Shilton were back to defend. The ball was spread across to Jan Domarski who shaped to shoot from the edge of the area. Hughes flew into a last-ditch tackle but Domarski's shot evaded his block and slipped under the body of Shilton and into the net.

England equalised through an Allan Clarke penalty but couldn't find the winning goal. Although some questioned whether Hughes' attempts at a tackle had unsighted Shilton, Hughes emerged rightly blameless for the Poland goal, with the emphasis placed on Hunter's initial mistimed tackle and Shilton's desire to hold rather than merely stop the ball, which in the end meant he did neither. Ramsey was sacked six months later.

At the end of that season, a now-famous smile was back on Hughes' face when Liverpool reached the FA Cup final and destroyed Newcastle United 3-0. Hughes, as skipper, received the trophy from Princess Anne, whom he would encounter again later in his professional life. It was a good month for Hughes, as he was also appointed England captain - as successor to Bobby Moore - by caretaker boss Joe Mercer. Hughes led out England for the first time on the 11 May 1974 in a Home International against Wales in Cardiff, which England won 2-0.

Hughes captained England for every one of Mercer's seven games in charge, and initially maintained the role when Don Revie was appointed as Ramsey's permanent successor. However, after the first two qualifiers for the 1976 European Championships, Revie decided to drop Hughes from the team. He gave the captaincy to his former Blackpool team-mate Alan Ball, and Hughes appeared only twice for England in 1975.

With his international career seemingly in tatters, Hughes nevertheless remained a solid and successful leader with Liverpool, now under the guidance of Bob Paisley following Shankly's retirement. Liverpool won nothing in 1975, but achieved another League Championship and UEFA Cup double in 1976. The following season was the most eventful in Hughes' career.

It began with a shock recall by Revie, who played Hughes in the second qualifier for the 1978 World Cup, although he didn't return the captaincy to him - this was now held by Hughes' clubmate Kevin Keegan, leading to a peculiar situation of a club captain being instructed and led by one of his charges. Hughes was now predominantly a central defender, and played in a tactically-disastrous team against Italy in Rome which marked the lowest point of Revie's tenure as England manager. England lost 2-0.

Revie selected Hughes for further games through the early part of 1977, during which time Liverpool were heading towards an unprecedented 'treble' of League Championship, FA Cup and European Cup. Ultimately, they would win the title but then lose the FA Cup final to bitter rivals Manchester United, with Hughes again cutting a sickened figure as he climbed the Wembley steps to receive his losers' medal, although he did manage to lead Liverpool on a lap of honour afterwards. However, the smile was restored 4 days later when he captained Liverpool to a historic 3-1 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach in Rome to win the European Cup. His season ended with some individual glory, when he was voted the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year.

Revie gave Hughes the England captaincy back for a Home International match against Scotland when Keegan was unavailable, before selecting him for the squad which would tour South America in the summer. During this tour, Revie secretly engineered his departure from the England job, and when Ron Greenwood took over, he returned the captaincy to Hughes. England left too much to do after the defeat to Italy to qualify for the World Cup, but Hughes nonetheless celebrated a 50th cap when England beat the Italians 2-0 in the final qualifier at Wembley at the end of 1977.

In 1978, Hughes was in the Liverpool team which lost its first ever League Cup final to Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest after a replay. The league title went to Forest too, but Liverpool managed to retain the European Cup with a 1-0 win over Club Brugge at Wembley, with Hughes lifting the trophy for a second year running. Hughes' place was now under regular threat from a talented young Scottish defender named Alan Hansen who had arrived the previous season for a mere £100,000 from Partick Thistle. The following season, Hughes made just 16 appearances, enough to earn his final title medal. Paisley decided to let him go and sold him to Wolverhampton Wanderers for £90,000 in August 1979. Hughes left Liverpool after 665 appearances and scoring 49 goals for the club. His 59 appearances for England while at Liverpool made him the club's most capped player until Welsh striker Ian Rush broke the record more than ten years later.

The last hurrahs

Hughes made his Wolves debut at the Baseball Ground on Wednesday, 22 August 1979 in a 1-0 win over Derby County.

Hughes went on to win the League Cup in his first season with Wolves - the only trophy he didn't win with Liverpool - and duly lifted it as captain after a surprise 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest at Wembley. He was also decorated with the OBE for services to football and featured on the television tribute show This Is Your Life.

He continued to be selected for England squads even after leaving Liverpool. He featured sporadically in England's successful qualifying campaign for the 1980 European Championships, he captained the team for the final time in the 1-1 1980 Home International game with Northern Ireland draw at Wembley, and won his 62nd and final cap against Scotland in the next game as a substitute.

Greenwood still put him in the squad for the European Championship finals in Italy as experienced back-up, but Hughes ultimately didn't play as England were eliminated in the group stages. Hughes was England's only connection with their previous foray into the finals of a tournament - the 1970 World Cup - but his non-participation in either earned him the dubious honour of being England's most capped player never to feature in a major finals. A more acceptable honour was that of becoming only the fourth player to represent England in three separate decades, joining Jesse Pennington, Stanley Matthews and Bobby Charlton.

After the ball

Hughes left Molineux in 1981, joining Rotherham United as player-manager. He also played for Hull City, later becoming a director. He joined Mansfield Town briefly in 1983, but didn't make any appearances for the Stags. Later that year he also turned out for Swansea City, with whom he brought his playing career to a close, badly.

Hughes developed a successful television career after leaving football. In 1984, he became a team captain on the long-running BBC quiz A Question of Sport, opposite England's former rugby union captain Bill Beaumont. Hughes became much-mimicked for his competitive nature and high-pitched protestations when not being able to recall an answer. In the show's picture board section, in which panel members were shown a board with a choice of 12 photographs of well known sports personalities to be identified, Hughes would usually reference his old shirt number at Liverpool in informing the show's host David Coleman "Number Six please, Dave".

He infamously identified a picture of a heavily-muddied jockey as John Reid, only to be mortified when told it was Princess Anne. Later in the same series, she came on the programme, made it clear she was not remotely offended by the misidentification, and was put on his team. Hughes caused a minor national debate when he defied protocol and put his arm around her in what his apologists described as a normal piece of team bonding. He called her "ma'am" throughout.

Hughes later joined her team for the much-criticised It's a Royal Knockout project, the brainchild of Prince Edward.

Hughes' involvement with the BBC also included work as an analyst on radio. Alongside Peter Jones he was present at the Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985 and uttered the words: "Football has died and the hooligans have won." He also was a member of the punditry panel for BBC television's coverage of the 1986 World Cup. However, he left A Question Of Sport - and the corporation as a whole - in 1987 to go to ITV and skipper a team on the unsuccessful Sporting Triangles. Through this, he also occasionally appeared as a pundit on ITV's own football coverage. He was also immortalised in comic strip form as he was signed by Melchester Rovers in the Roy of the Rovers strip; he also wrote a column for the teenage football magazine Match.

On 24 July 2008 it was announced that Hughes will be inducted into the National Football Museum's Hall of Fame. The National Football Museum in Preston started its Hall of Fame in 2002 with the inductees chosen by a selection panel that includes Gordon Banks, Sir Trevor Brooking, Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Bobby Charlton, Jack Charlton, Mark Lawrenson and Gary Lineker. The awards will be presented at the annual ceremony, this year being held at the Millennium Mayfair Hotel in London on September 18.

Career details

* Liverpool F.C (1967–1979) 665 appearances, 49 goals

* Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C (1979–1981) - 58 appearances, 2 goals

* England (1969–1980) - 62 caps, 1 goal

  • Hughes captained England 23 times and was part of the 1970 World Cup squad in Mexico

* Personal Honours

  • Awarded the OBE in (1980)
  • Football Writers Footballer of the Year (1977)

Final years

In later years, Hughes lived a quiet retirement, occasionally carrying out duties as an after-dinner or motivational speaker.

In 1992 he appeared on an episode of Gamesmaster (a TV based computer games magazine) promoting the football video game which carried his name Emlyn Hughes International Soccer.

He became chief patron to the Sheffield based charity F.A.B.L.E. (For A Better Life with Epilepsy) in 1995.

In 2003, it was announced that he was suffering from a brain tumor, for which he underwent surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Hughes continued to battle against the disease until his death at his Sheffield home on November 9 2004, at the age of 57.

A minute's silence was held the following evening at Anfield before Liverpool's game against Middlesbrough in the Carling Cup and was impeccably observed. His funeral service took place at Sheffield Cathedral.

Hughes was married to Barbara and had a son and daughter, both named after himself (Emlyn Jr. and Emma LYNN ). His last public appearance had been at his daughter's wedding, nine months before his death.

Emlyn is a much loved character amongst the Anfield Faithful and was voted in the top 10 at No.10 on the Official Liverpool Football Club web site poll 100 Players Who Shook The Kop.

See also

External links

References

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