Jordan Hughes

Year? 2006.

Team? Junior

Manager? Paul Ritchie And Kyle Spiers

Position? Left Wing/ Striker

What do you remember?

“The first thing that sticks out in my mind, once I had got through to the final 18, was how good the facilities at Crossgar were. I mean It all felt so professional and it was the first time I had experienced that. The gear you were given, and the way the kits were all set out ahead of training and matches was unlike anything I had experienced before. Each player, had their own squad number, while we often did double sessions that were well planned and mapped out. The whole thing was just so professional and it was great to experience that at a young age. As for the week itself it was brilliant. You were mixing with all these players from top clubs across the world. Rubbing shoulders with clubs like Manchester United and CSKA Moscow is an incredible experience and really emphasises the quality of the tournament, and to be so young playing against teams like that was incredible. We played CSKA in the first game. It was a massive game, playing a professional outfit. We managed to get a draw, and that really was the catalyst for us to reach the Semi-Finals. It is important to mention how well prepared we were. Kyle was brilliant. We were training so often, perfecting set pieces and shape. That was the other thing the whole strong was squad throughout the 18 players there wasn’t a weak link and we were very flexible and adaptable when it came to formations. After the CSKA game, we were very confident and the next day played Dublin Schoolboys, and then it came down to the game against Hearts. If we won, we would be in the Semi-final of the Milk Cup proper. We won 1-0 and I scored the winner. For me personally it was brilliant. I got quite a bit of press at the time and my photo was in the newspaper. It was all a bit surreal and it was one of those moments I wont forget. Also for the team it was amazing. To get through to the Semi-Final of the Milk Cup proper, through knocking out a professional outfit made the achievement even greater. We had a great group of players, and we were all mates off the field, which made a big difference. The team spirit was incredible and you really relied on that throughout the week to get you through the difficult moments. And then we played Swindon in the Semi-Final. We played really well and we honestly believed we would make it to the final. They took the lead on 70 minutes, and then we equalised in the 85th minute. It was at that moment,, that I was convinced we would go through. But it went to penalties and they went through. It was heart-breaking, and it is never a nice way to go out, but we certainly were not dropping our heads and we realised that on a different night we could have easily gone through. “

Favourite memory?

It was beating Hearts to reach the Semi-Finals without a doubt. We were not obvious favourites going into the game, and then to get the result was something I will not forget. Paul and the rest of the coaching staff brought us all together that week and we felt as if we could not be beaten. For all the work we had put in the weeks leading up to the competition it was a just reward. And also to score the winner in a game of that magnitude was special. Although we were unfortunate to get beaten by Swindon we can look back at the week with enormous pride at what we achieved.

Since the Milk Cup?

When I was 16, and finished my GCSE’S I signed for Portsmouth. I spent 4 years there, and loved it, and really money issues determined why I had to leave. I came back to Northern Ireland, and signed for Lisburn Distillery when they were in the Irish League. When Distillery got relegated Glentoran came in for me, and I signed for them. It didn’t really work out at Glentoran for whatever reason so now I am down at Knockbreda.