The Northern Irishman had led the Kochi-based club to the ISL final in 2016.

In a latest, former Kerala Blasters defender Aaron Hughes has announced his retirement from professional football. The Northern Ireland international spoke to his teammates after their 1-0 victory against Belarus in the 2020 European Championship Qualifiers at the Borisov Arena.

Hughes, was an integral part of the Kerala Blasters team in the 2016-17 season when he led the side to the Indian Super League (ISL) final. The 39 year-old was the Blasters’ marquee signing of the season and even scored a goal in his 11 appearances for the club.

The defender then went on to sign for Scottish Premier League outfit Hearts in 2017 where he played for two seasons making 32 appearances overall. Hughes wasn’t in the matchday squad that faced Belarus on Wednesday but decided to call time on his extraordinary 21 year-career that saw him earn a record 112 caps for his country, of which he also captained 48 times.


Earlier, Hughes had announced his retirement from international football back in 2011 but was convinced by former manager Michael O’Neill to overturn his decision. Since then, the then skipper led his nation to Euro 2016 qualification in France.

Born in Cookstown, Hughes rose through the ranks at Newcastle United’s academy and went on to play for the first team making over 200 appearances for the club. From there, he also had a couple of successful stints with Premier League sides Aston Villa and Fulham. Hughes caught the eye of another English side Brighton and Hove Albion in 2014 where he played for a season before moving to A-League side Melbourne City and then finally arriving in India in 2016.