Hull City pre-season open day at the KCOM Stadium
Hull City begin the new Championship season away at Aston Villa on Saturday.
Bryan Hughes talks Premier League ambition, names the best player he played alongside and why he met Phil Brown at Faro airport.
In the first of his regular columns for KCOM Sport, former City star Bryan Hughes talks Premier League ambition, names the best player he played alongside and why he met Phil Brown at Faro airport.
On signing for Hull City…
The ambition of the club was the main thing that drew me to Hull City. I spoke to Phil Brown in the summer of 2007 and he just sold the club to me straight away. The club had just stayed up in the Championship the previous season and I spoke to Phil and he had big ambitions to try and get the club into the Premier League alongside Paul Duffen, the then chairman, and I sort of bought into it straight away.
It was a 3 year plan that Phil sold to me and I was coming from a Premier League team at the time, Charlton Athletic, and wanted to get back there as soon as possible. Despite wanting to get back to the Premier League, I didn’t expect us to do it so soon, 2008 was just a fantastic achievement for the whole city.
There was interest elsewhere at the time as well. I think at the time I had Bolton Wanderers who were a Premier League team wanting my services as well as Everton, a team I supported as a boy growing up. It didn’t materialise though, they sort of wanted to keep dragging it on and as I had a young family, I wanted my contract sorting as soon as possible.
That’s when I got the call off Phil Brown. I was holidaying in Portugal at the time and as luck would have it, Phil was in Portugal as well. We met at Faro Airport and flew back together to have a conversation with Paul Duffen and my agent, just to thrash a few things out. I thought the way Phil Brown sold the club to me was excellent, he did a really professional job on it and was true to his word. He was talking about bringing players like Juninho and Jay-Jay Okocha to the club which eventually happened in the case of Jay Jay. To go out and get Jay-Jay Okocha was a big coup for the club at the time. You just knew that Phil wanted to be successful as a manager and had an aura about him which I could sense.
The best player I played with…
A lot of people ask me who’s the best player I’ve ever played with and only one comes to mind. It has to be Jay Jay Okocha. It was fantastic to have him actually on my team when he signed for Hull City as I played against him numerous times over the years in the Premier League and it was always hard to play against Jay-Jay Okocha, especially in his prime.
To have him within our squad was a real coup and it was great to work alongside him on a day-to-day basis. I don’t think we got the best out of Jay-Jay here at Hull City but just that experience of being in and around such a fantastic professional on a day-to-day basis was enough for me
Jay-Jay was very laid back, nothing phased him. It’s just a shame that he was injured for so long in that season. But, he was still there at Wembley. He played a big part before the game, encouraging all of the players going onto the field. Going into a game like that one, it’s important to stay level headed and he was a big part of keeping our feet on the ground, especially some of the younger players who hadn’t experienced it.
I just wish I could have had more game time with him. Obviously chasing him around all those years, it would have been nice to have been on the same team on more occasions!
You can follow Bryan on Twitter @yozzer10.