They say the only way is down after you leave United, but few players move to a club like Barcelona, and fewer yet return to Old Trafford for a second even more successful spell with the Reds. Mark Hughes made a habit of doing things his own way throughout a brilliant career.
His love affair with United began in March 1978 when he signed schoolboy forms as a 14-year-old, but few would have believed that this young midfielder from Wrexham would go on to become one of the club’s greatest-ever goalscorers.
United youth coach Syd Owen was the man to spot Hughes’ potential as a striker and for that every Red owes him a debt of
thanks. Sparky made a goalscoring debut against Oxford in November 1983 and six months later marked his international debut against England with another goal.
In 1985 he was named PFA Young Player of the Year and picked up an FA Cup winner’s medal, but a contract dispute halted his progress with the Reds and a year later he was out of United and off to Barcelona, surprisingly snapped up by Barca manager Terry Venables.
Hughes never settled at the Nou Camp and described his Catalan move as “horrible”, scoring only four goals in 28 games. A year later he was sent to Bayern Munich on loan where he refound his