Fulham favourite Aaron Hughes announced his retirement from professional football on Tuesday evening.
The defender relayed his decision to his Northern Ireland teammates after their 1-0 win in Belarus.
Now aged 39, Hughes enjoyed a marvellous career, racking up 777 appearances for club and country since his debut for Newcastle United in a UEFA Champions League match against Barcelona at the Nou Camp almost 22 years ago.
After eight seasons in the first team on Tyneside, Hughes headed south to Aston Villa where he spent two years, before moving to London to join Fulham.
Recruited by Lawrie Sanchez in the summer of 2007 having worked together in the national setup, Hughes cost the Club just £1m, which must surely go down as one of our wisest ever investments.
After helping the Whites avoid relegation at the end of what was a difficult campaign, Hughes became the bedrock of an organised, solid side under Roy Hodgson, forming a fantastic partnership with Brede Hangeland at the back.
The pair worked brilliantly together, with the fans soon referring to them as our very own Thames Barrier. Their styles complemented each other perfectly, and while Hughes wasn’t the tallest of centre-backs, his leap and reading of the game more than made up for it.
Hughes was one of only three ever presents – alongside Mark Schwarzer and Danny Murphy – as Fulham finished in our highest ever position of seventh in the 2008/09 Premier League, which led to European qualification.
Fulham played 19 matches in the Europa League in 2009/10 as we reached the Final against all the odds, with Hughes featuring in 17 of those – starting in Lithuania against FK Vetra in June, and concluding in the Final when Atletico Madrid edged us out in Hamburg 10 months later.
Hughes continued to be a regular at the heart of defence under his namesake Mark Hughes the following season, featuring 43 times and scoring his first goal for the Club against West Ham United.
He departed Fulham in January 2014 having made 250 appearances across a six-and-a-half-year spell.
After leaving SW6, Hughes represented Queens Park Rangers, Brighton & Hove Albion, Melbourne City and Hearts.
Hughes played 112 times for Northern Ireland – a record for an outfield player – with 48 of those caps coming as captain.
He helped his nation reach their first major tournament for 30 years when they qualified for Euro 2016, and he played in three of their four matches in France.
A consummate professional, and just a genuinely nice man, everyone at Fulham would like to wish Aaron all the very best in his retirement.