Will Hughes

Will Hughes
Hughes in 2011
Personal information
Full name William James Hughes[1]
Date of birth (1995-04-17) 17 April 1995[2]
Place of birth Weybridge, England
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)[2]
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Number 19
Youth career
2007–2011 Mickleover Jubilee
2011 Derby County
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2011–2017 Derby County 165 (9)
2017– Watford 17 (3)
National team
2012 England U17 6 (1)
2012–2017 England U21 22 (2)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 14:58, 19 August 2018 (UTC)

William James Hughes (born 17 April 1995) is an English professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Premier League club Watford.

Early years

Born in Weybridge, Surrey,[3] Hughes moved to Derby at the age of two.[4][5] Hughes was first educated at St Peter's Junior school and then Repton School for secondary school in Derbyshire[5] and played for the school football team, scoring the first goal in a 3–1 defeat to Brentwood in the Rensburg Sheppards ISFA Final.[6] He then went on to play for local side Mickleover Jubilee, before he later signed for Derby County as a first-year scholar in the summer of 2011.[4][5]

Club career

Derby County

2011–12 season

Hughes made his debut for the club's reserve team as a 70th minute substitute in a 6–1 Central League win over Walsall on 22 September 2011[7] and made two additional appearances in the Central League Cup. It was his "outstanding"[8] performance in a 1–0 win over Port Vale reserves in the competition on 1 November which brought him to manager Nigel Clough's attention for possible inclusion in the Derby first-team squad against Peterborough United four days later.[4]

Hughes made his full debut for Derby as a 90th-minute substitute for Jamie Ward. Despite entering the match late with the scores level, there was still time for Hughes' first-team debut to end in defeat as a 94th-minute goal saw Peterborough win 3–2.[9]

After Derby midfielder Paul Green, who was out-of-contract at the end of the season, rejected a contract offer, Clough dropped him and promoted Hughes to the first-team squad as his replacement for the penultimate match of the season at Portsmouth.[10] Hughes started the match on the substitute's bench and came on in the 68th minute, replacing Theo Robinson in a 2–1 win.[11] Hughes started his first match for the senior team in the final match of the season, a 1–1 draw against Peterborough United.[12] Hughes' performance match earned praise from Derby manager Nigel Clough.[13] At Derby's awards night, Hughes won the Scholar of the Year Award.[14]

2012–13 season

After impressing in pre-season, Clough said that Hughes could be in line for a place in the starting line-up in the first match of the season against Scunthorpe United in the League Cup.[15] Clough was particularly impressed with his substitute appearance against Colchester United saying, "When he came off the bench at Colchester, he was very good indeed. I thought he was the star of the subs. He looked comfortable. I don't think he gave the ball away and he made our equaliser. We are very pleased with him."[15]

Hughes scored his first goal for the club in a 5–1 win against Watford on 1 September 2012.[16] Hughes signed a new contract in October 2012, committing his future at the club until summer 2015.[17] Hughes scored his second goal for the club in a 2–1 defeat at Millwall on 10 November, scoring an equalising goal from 20 yards.[18] In November 2012, Hughes was linked with moves to Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City.[19] Nigel Clough denied the rumours,[20] however he said the interest in the player was inevitable and said many scouts have been at Derby matches to watch Hughes.[21] Spanish club Barcelona were also reported to have had an interest in Hughes, after scouts from the Catalan club "compiled a detailed dossier" on Hughes when he appeared for England U17 in the Algarve Tournament in February 2012.

Hughes was named the Football League Young Player of the Month for November 2012, after a series of impressive performances.[22] On the eve of the 2013 January transfer window, it was reported in the Derby Telegraph that Hughes was being closely observed by 10 Premier League clubs with Fulham's manager Martin Jol saying of Hughes, "Believe me, there are probably 10 clubs in the Premier League having a look at him. He is one of these wonderful talents, so he is always on lists. If you have a good scouting system, he will always be on the list but we will see."[23]

In February 2013, during a 0–0 draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Hughes picked up a groin injury and was replaced after 63 minutes. As a result of this injury, Hughes ended his ever-present run of Derby first-team appearances after 35 matches and ended a run of 37 consecutive appearances.[24] With twelve matches remaining in the season and with Derby unlikely to fight for a play-off place and with Hughes being ruled out for the first two matches in March;[24] Clough said he considered resting Hughes for the rest of season to reduce stress on his body.

In April 2013, Hughes signed a one-year extension to his contract after his 18th birthday, extending his stay until June 2016.[25] Hughes returned to first-team action before schedule on 20 April as an 85th-minute substitute in Derby's 3–1 against Peterborough United.[26] At the end of the season, Hughes won the Sammy Crooks Young Player of the Year award.[27]

2013–14 season

Ahead of the 2013–14 season, Hughes was expected to compete with Craig Bryson, Paul Coutts and Jeff Hendrick, with then-manager Nigel Clough stating that rotation could be utilised.[28] Hughes scored his first goal of the season on 27 August in a 5–0 win against League One side Brentford in the League Cup.[29] He scored his first league goal of the season in a 3–1 defeat at home to Reading on 21 September.[30] This was Hughes' last goal under Nigel Clough, who was sacked a week later following a 1–0 defeat at the hands of rivals Nottingham Forest in the East Midlands derby.[31][32] Clough was replaced by former England manager Steve McClaren,[33] and Hughes scored in his first match in charge of Derby; a 3–1 win against Leeds United.[34]

2014–15 season

On 1 July 2014, Hughes agreed a new four-year contract at Derby County, which would see his contract at the club extended until the end of the 2017–18 season.[35]

2015–16 season

On 8 August 2015 in the season opener against Bolton, Hughes damaged his anterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee and was ruled out for six months.[36] In April 2016, Hughes rejoined the first-team squad at Derby after returning to full fitness.[37]


On 24 June 2017, Hughes joined Premier League club Watford on a five-year contract for an undisclosed fee, reported to be around £8 million.[38] Hughes became newly appointed manager Marco Silva's first signing of the season.[39]

International career

On 17 January 2012, Hughes was called up to the England U17 for the first time for the Algarve Tournament in February 2012, he was joined by his teammate Mason Bennett.[40] Hughes appeared in all three match, as England won the three-match tournament with seven points.[41] Hughes scored a goal in the 2–2 draw against Netherlands U17 on 4 February 2012. Hughes was also called up the 2012 UEFA European Under-17 Championship elite round in March 2012, however England failed to qualify for the main tournament, finishing 3rd in their group on 4 points, with their exit confirmed in a 4–0 loss to Spain U17.[42] In August 2012, Hughes was named as standby for the England U19 squad for a friendly against Germany U19 in September.[43] On 19 November 2013, Hughes scored his first goal for England U21 against San Marino U21.

In November 2012, Hughes made his first appearance for the England U21 squad in a friendly against Northern Ireland U21 on 13 November.[44] Hughes came on as a 65th-minute substitute for Josh McEachran, becoming the second youngest player to get capped for the U21s,[45] only beaten by Theo Walcott.[5] Derby youth academy director Darren Wassall praised Hughes after his call-up to the England U21 side, saying "It's a great achievement to get in at 17 and we are all delighted for him. To make that rise into the Under-21s so soon is fantastic for him and everyone at the club."[46] Hughes called the experience "surreal".[47]

Style of play

Hughes has been described as a "flair player" who uses through balls and mazy runs to create space for teammates and beat opposition defences in attacking positions.[5]

Hughes said in a December 2012 interview for the BBC, that he bases his play on Barcelona and Spanish international central midfielders Xavi and Andrés Iniesta.[5] Hughes states his strengths are his passing and technical ability and targeted improvements in pace and physical strength.[5]

Hughes' former England U21 coach Stuart Pearce described Hughes as "technically a very sound player". "He rarely gave the ball away in training or in the game he played [against Northern Ireland], which is vitally important at international level. He's progressing really well."[5]

Career statistics

As of match played 19 August 2018
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Other Total
Derby County 2011–12[48] Championship 30000030
2012–13[49] Championship 3522010382
2013–14[50] Championship 41310313[lower-alpha 1]1485
2014–15[51] Championship 4221150483
2015–16[52] Championship 6000002[lower-alpha 1]080
2016–17[53] Championship 3821030422
Total 1659511215118712
Watford 2017–18[54] Premier League 1520010162
2018–19[55] Premier League 21000021
Total 1730010183
Career total 18212511315120515




  1. "Professional retain list & free transfers 2012/13" (PDF). The Football League. 18 May 2013. p. 14. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 August 2014.
  2. 1 2 "Will Hughes". 11v11.com. AFS Enterprises. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  3. Rollin, Glenda; Rollin, Jack, eds. (2012). Sky Sports Football Yearbook 2012–2013 (43rd ed.). London: Headline Publishing Group. p. 464. ISBN 978-0-7553-6356-8.
  4. 1 2 3 "Hughes to step up from the Rams Academy". Derby Telegraph. 5 November 2011.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Derby's Will Hughes – the Championship's latest sensation". BBC Sport. 21 December 2012.
  6. "Repton denied in decider". Derby Telegraph. 10 March 2010. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013.
  7. "Derby County Res 6–1 Walsall Res". Derby County F.C. 22 September 2011.
  8. "Derby County Res 1–0 Port Vale Res". Derby County F.C. 1 November 2011.
  9. "Peterborough United 3 – 2 Derby County". Derby County F.C. 5 November 2011. Archived from the original on 16 January 2011.
  10. "Clough to cast net after Green turns down offer". Derby Telegraph. 20 April 2012. Archived from the original on 22 April 2012.
  11. "Portsmouth 1–2 Derby County". Derby County F.C. 21 April 2012.
  12. "Derby County 1–1 Peterborough United". Derby County F.C. 28 April 2012.
  13. "Clough Impressed By Hughes Display". Derby County F.C. 30 April 2012.
  14. "Bryson Named Club Player of the Year". Derby County F.C. 2 May 2012.
  15. 1 2 "'Will Hughes is in frame for Derby County starting line-up'". Derby Telegraph. 8 August 2012. Archived from the original on 13 August 2012.
  16. "Derby 5–1 Watford". BBC Sport. 1 September 2012.
  17. "Hughes Pens New Rams Deal". Derby County F.C. 20 October 2012.
  18. "Millwall 1–2 Derby". BBC Sport. 10 November 2012.
  19. "No bids for promising Ram". Yahoo! Eurosport. 14 November 2012. Archived from the original on 6 January 2014.
  20. "Will Hughes: Derby manager says interest inevitable". BBC Sport. 14 November 2012.
  21. "Hughes named Young Player of the Month". The Football League. 21 December 2012. Archived from the original on 19 March 2013.
  22. "Fulham boss Martin Jol one of 10 with eyes on Will Hughes". Derby Telegraph. 27 December 2012.
  23. 1 2 "Midfielder Will Hughes ruled out of Derby County's tough double header". Derby Telegraph. 27 February 2013.
  24. "Hughes Extends Derby Contract". Derby County F.C. 18 April 2013.
  25. "Derby 3–1 Peterborough". BBC Sport. 20 April 2013.
  26. "Keogh Named Club Player of the Year". Derby County F.C. 2 May 2013.
  27. "Nigel Clough still pondering midfield dilemma for Derby County". Derby Telegraph. 23 July 2013. Archived from the original on 26 July 2013.
  28. "Derby 5–0 Brentford". BBC Sport. 27 August 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  29. "Derby 1–3 Reading". BBC Sport. 21 September 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  30. "Nigel Clough: Derby County sack manager after defeat at Forest". BBC Sport. 28 September 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  31. "Nott'm Forest 1–0 Derby". BBC Sport. 28 September 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  32. "Steve McClaren named as Derby County head coach"Steve McClaren named as Derby County head coach". BBC Sport. 30 September 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  33. "Derby County 3–1 Leeds". BBC Sport. 5 October 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  34. "Will Hughes Signs A New Long-Term Contract At Derby County". Derby County F.C. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
  35. "Derby midfielder out for six months with knee injury". BBC Sport. 8 August 2015. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  36. "Official: Hughes Is A Hornet". Watford F.C. 24 June 2017. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  37. Rouse, Daniel (24 June 2017). "Marco Silva makes Will Hughes his 1st Watford buy for reported £8M". The Score. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  38. "Bennett & Hughes Get England Call-Ups". Derby County F.C. 17 January 2012. Archived from the original on 25 January 2012.
  39. "Bennett & Hughes Start in England U17 Win". Derby County F.C. 18 January 2012. Archived from the original on 9 February 2012.
  40. "Hughes & Bennett Feature in England Defeat". Derby County F.C. 13 April 2012. Archived from the original on 9 February 2012.
  41. "Hughes on England Standby". Derby County F.C. 25 August 2012.
  42. "England U-21 ring changes for Northern Ireland friendly". BBC Sport. 8 November 2012.
  43. "Hughes Gains England Under 21 Honours". Derby County F.C. 13 November 2012.
  44. "Derby's Will Hughes can "come alive" for England Under-21s". BBC Sport. 13 November 2012.
  45. "Will Hughes: England call surreal says Derby teenager". BBC Sport. 15 November 2012.
  46. "Games played by Will Hughes in 2011/2012". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  47. "Games played by Will Hughes in 2012/2013". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  48. "Games played by Will Hughes in 2013/2014". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  49. "Games played by Will Hughes in 2014/2015". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  50. "Games played by Will Hughes in 2015/2016". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  51. "Games played by Will Hughes in 2016/2017". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  52. "Games played by Will Hughes in 2017/2018". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  53. "Games played by Will Hughes in 2018/2019". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  54. "Luis Suarez: Liverpool striker wins PFA Player of the Year award". BBC Sport. 28 April 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
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