The club can confirm that following a serious injury sustained in last month’s 2-0 victory over Portadown, Jeff Hughes has today announced his retirement from professional football.
Hughes, who had planned to announce his retirement at the end of the current season, has made the decision based on medical advice after it was confirmed he has suffered a ruptured ACL with MCL and meniscus damage. It has also been confirmed that Hughes will require an operation, with the club offering its full support during the rehabilitation process.
We can further confirm that more announcements will follow today regarding Jeff’s long-term future off the pitch at Inver Park, alongside information on a ‘Benefit Year’ to mark an incredible career for ‘one of our own’.
As a player, Jeff made his senior debut for the Inver Reds in August 2003 at the age of 18, before moving across the water to sign for Lincoln City. A hugely successful career in the English Football League followed, including spells at Crystal Palace, Peterborough United, Bristol Rovers, Notts. County, Fleetwood Town, Cambridge United and Tranmere Rovers.
Capped twice at senior level for Northern Ireland, Jeff’s final game in England saw him secure promotion back to the Football League with Tranmere Rovers at Wembley Stadium. The next season, he was back at Inver Park where he has since helped his hometown club secure promotion to the top-flight, two European campaigns and three senior trophies.
Speaking on his retirement, Hughes reflected:
“It’s unfortunate that my retirement has had to come early, as I believe this team is capable of challenging at the top this season and I wanted to continue playing my part on the pitch to achieve more success with the club.
“However, I’ve been blessed with an incredible career which has spanned over 20 years, something that I could only have dreamed of when I first made the move to Lincoln City back in 2005. To play for so many big clubs was a huge honour which I will never take for granted, and I can look back fondly at my time with each of them.
“I will forever be grateful that I could return to Inver Park for my last stop as a player. It was a dream to lead my hometown club into Europe for the first time, alongside bringing silverware back to the town over the past few years.
“For now, I will focus on my rehabilitation and would like to thank everyone who has supported me since the injury, and to all of the fans for their support over the past five years.
“I will continue to support the lads where I can during the run-in and look forward to continuing to work with the club and helping bring more success to the town long-term.”