RICHARD Hughes has thanked AFC Bournemouth and his “amazing” team-mates for helping him end his playing career on a high after announcing his retirement.
The midfielder, who is in his second spell with the club having first joined as a teenager, will officially hang up his boots when his contract expires at the end of June.
Hughes returned to Dean Court in 2012 following a 10-year absence and 12 months out of the game when he was tempted out of retirement by former Cherries boss Paul Groves.
The Scotsman, who turns 35 next month, played 21 times as Cherries won promotion from League One and has made seven appearances this season.
Despite his lack of match action, Hughes’s experience and knowledge have been invaluable as Eddie Howe’s men quickly adjusted to life in the Championship.
Hughes, who also works as a pundit for BT Sport and owns a share in an Italian restaurant in London, is hoping to remain in the game in some capacity.
Speaking exclusively to the Daily Echo, he said: “When I signed, the aim was to see out the two years, although I didn’t know how realistic that would be. I had been out of the game for 12 months and, when you are in your 30s, you never know how your body and mind are going to react.
“Although it was a tough decision to come out of retirement, it was made easier by who it was for. Then, if it hadn’t been for Eddie coming back, I probably would have found it difficult to see out the second year. I just feel now is the right time to hang up my boots.
“We have enough players in my position and their performances have been outstanding. They have really grown as players and there is no necessity for me to be there any longer because we are really well catered for in that position.
“One of the roles I had was to help players if they wanted it. I was there to help them develop and to be a sounding board. Given the season they have had, it has certainly happened so that part of my role is no longer necessary.
“Although I retired three years ago, that was on very different terms due in part to a contractual dispute. I always thought I would play again, although there weren’t an abundance of offers that interested me.
“This time, it is very different. I came back and have finished my career in a positive manner. To play, albeit a minor role, in arguably two of the most successful seasons in the club’s history has been a source of major enjoyment, pride and satisfaction. I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to end on this note. I am doing it for the right reasons and with no regrets.
"I am also very fortunate to have spent the final two years of my playing career with some amazing team-mates. I have never known such a close bond in a dressing room and they have been a pleasure to play alongside. I would like to thank them and everybody associated with the club for making the final two years of my playing career two of the best and most memorable.”
Hughes played 185 games for Cherries in two spells, his final appearance coming as a substitute in a 1-1 draw at Burnley in November.