Former Leeds United favourite Andy Hughes says it will be a dream come true to run out at Elland Road next season if he gets the opportunity with Charlton Athletic.
Hughes became a huge fans favourite during his time at Elland Road with his never say die attitude on the pitch.
The versatile player played in a host of different positions during his time at Elland Road and he was an almost ever present for Leeds in their promotion season of 2009/10, when he filled the troublesome left back position.
Hughes made 51 appearances that season and he still reflects on the final day of the season, when Leeds gained promotion in front of a packed out Elland Road crowd.
Speaking on Yorkshire Radio, Hughes said, “I still think about it and players still talk to me about it. Even the Charlton players talk to me about it and go on about the Bristol game. They say, at one stage they were promoted because they were winning at Oldham and then we pulled it out the bag at Leeds. It was a great game, I speak to Michael Doyle and Neil Collins at Sheffield United and we talk about it.
“Leeds hadn`t done anything for a long time and to be a part of it, in front of the fans and to actually enjoy it on the pitch.
“I know people say, ‘stay off the pitch` but when the fans invaded the pitch it was brilliant. They were saying, ‘stay off the pitch,` but come on, I will never be lifted in the air by fans again and for it to be done to me by the Leeds fans was the most special footballing memory I will ever have.”
Hughes was one of the only players to remain with Leeds in their three seasons in League One, having signed from Norwich City on the eve of the 2007/08 season.
He made his debut for Leeds the following day when they won 2-1 at Tranmere Rovers and started to claw back the fifteen-point penalty they had given by the Football League.
Hughes played his part in the club quickly removing the fifteen-point deficit as they won their first five games of the season and by the Christmas period, they had briefly led the division for a few hours.
He made 43 appearances for Leeds in his first season that eventually ended in heartache, with the play-off final defeat to Doncaster Rovers.
He went on to make 139 appearances for Leeds in his three and a half seasons with the club before leaving to join Scunthorpe United in January 2011.
Hughes still regrets not getting the chance to say a proper farewell to the fans on the pitch when he was an unused substitute in the FA Cup replay with Arsenal. “The last game for me was against Arsenal. It was at home and I was on the bench. There had been rumours and talks with the manager and I had a horrible feeling it would turn out to be my final game at Leeds, which it turned out to be.
“I was so unlucky, I was just saying, ‘please get me on the pitch in front of the kop,` even if it was just for the final twenty seconds. It did not happen and I managed to go out onto the pitch at the final whistle and clap the fans.
“People say you have regrets. The one regret I will always have is the fact that I did not have one last chance to play in front of the fans,” added Hughes.
The 34 year old is now going to get the chance to return to Elland Road next season after helping Charlton Athletic to promotion from League One.
Hughes made 20 appearances for the Addicks, although his last appearance was in January.
He is now hoping he will get the opportunity to feature for Charlton when they make the trip to Leeds and admits it will be a dream come true if he gets to play in front of the fans at Elland Road again.
Hughes continued, “In a weird sort of way I am the biggest Leeds fan ever, I still talk to Snods and visit the training ground but since that final day at Elland Road, I said to myself, I would never go back until I played there again because I just want to come back so much.
“I have been really lucky and I will be going back there with Charlton next season. If I am involved, it will be a dream come true and a highlight for me if I was to be involved.
“If I am not starting I will be warming up for the whole game. I used to warm up for nearly 90 minutes but I would be standing in front of Chris Powell eyeballing him.”
The fixtures for the 2012/13 season will be announced on June 18th at 9am. I think we know which game Hughes will be looking for first.
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