Northern Ireland defender Hughes still to weigh up retirement plan
The 38-year-old says he will take his daughter’s wish for him to carry on playing into account.
Aaron Hughes will weigh up whether to retire after Northern Ireland’s friendly with Costa Rica knowing he would disappoint his daughter if he called it a day.
The 38-year-old veteran defender will contemplate the future when he returns from Central America next week, with Hearts having expressed an interest to keep him on if he wishes.
Hughes has put off his retirement thoughts to focus on the end of the season with his club and his country’s two-match tour, and has even kept his family in the dark over which way he is leaning.
Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill is not the only person hoping Hughes carries on as the defender explained his daughter, Keira, is also urging him to continue.
“My daughter’s 14 and she doesn’t want me to finish,” Hughes said.
“I told her the other day I was thinking about it and she told me it was too much notice.
“That’s nice too – that they are at an age to watch. One of the big things for me at the Euros was that my kids were able to watch me at that level. At a stage where they understood it. Maybe before they watched me but didn’t understand it.
“I think she’s at that age where she enjoys going to watch it, watching her dad play football. She’s adamant that I don’t retire. I have to take that into account.
“She just enjoys going to the games, takes an interest in it and enjoys the atmosphere. It’s nice for me that she takes that interest.”
Another factor has been Hughes’ run in the Hearts team at the back end of the campaign.
He played in just eight club games prior to Christmas but appeared in 15 after that and concedes that has made the decision even more difficult.
“That six-month period I’ve just played is the longest run of games I’ve had for about four years,” Hughes added.
“Coming to what might be the end I’m thinking, ‘It might naturally take it’s course if I am not playing’. But I’m playing regular games and I suppose that has thrown a little bit of a spanner in my thinking.
“I’ve tried not overthink it, try and let the season come to a finish, come away to these games and just enjoy them, play the games and then I said when I’m back after this I would take a couple of weeks to have a real good think about my future, weigh everything up.
“Obviously I am thinking about it most days, I try not to but it’s only natural. I don’t want to go beyond that and work myself up. I’m still very undecided.”
Hughes knows there is a mental aspect too and he took great interest in basketball star Kobe Bryant’s comments when he retired at 37.
“Thirty now, that’s no longer an age when you start slowing down,” Hughes claimed.
“With the nutrition advice and sports science, I think players are peaking at 30 or 32. They have not just got the experience but they are physically really fit.
“I was a big Kobe Bryant fan. It was interesting when he did retire he said in his head he felt he was able to do it, just his body was telling him not to.
“So really it’s the mental side of things for me, knowing I could play on.”