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Mark Hughes once played for Wales and Bayern Munich on the same day

Sparky is an old-school footballer and in 1987 he did something that would never happen these days

Forget modern day Mark Hughes for a second.

The grey-haired, world-weary manager who is seemingly allergic to handshakes has nothing on Sparky the player.

Not many others can boast Man United, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Barcelona as previous employers.

The two-time Players’ Player of the Year was scoring goals back when footballers were ‘real men’ rather than the twinkled-toed, hairless torsos of the modern era.

Breathe it in

News Group Newspapers Ltd
Breathe it in

And nothing highlights Hughes’ legendary old-school status quite like the events of 11 November 1987.

On this fateful day, Sparky played for Wales in the afternoon… and then played for Bayern Munich in the evening.

Needless to say such a thing would never happen these days, but even back in the 1980s – with their catchy pop songs and abysmal fashion – a double-header on the same day was ultra rare.

However, on the aforementioned date, two schedules collided as Wales were due to play against Czechoslovakia on the same day Bayern had a German Cup replay versus Borussia Monchengladbach.

Hughes on loan at Bayern

Getty Images
Hughes on loan at Bayern

Wales needed to win in Prague if they were to have a chance of qualifying for Euro 1988.

At this point the Dragons hadn’t qualified for a major tournament in 30 years and so there was no way they were going to be without a fully-fit Hughes for such an important game.

Similarly, Bayern needed a win to advance in the cup, a tournament that was taken seriously back in the day and not seen as opportunity to give the kids a run out.

Hughes was only on loan at Bayern (from Barcelona) and the club were keen on getting the most out of their temporary signing.

Hughes for Wales in Prague

Hughes for Wales in Prague

Bayern legend and World Cup winner Uli Hoeness met with Hughes a week before the fixture and, upon discovering that the Wales game would finish around 6:15pm, cheerily suggested Hughes catch a plane to Munich and play in the evening as well.

And so, moments after Wales suffered a morale-crushing 2-0 loss, Hughes boarded a flight from Prague to Munich.

Old school Hughes is everything

Old school Hughes is everything

He told Four Four Two that he “flew over the ground and missed the first half” but made it in time for the restart and came on as a second-half substitute.

Bayern came from two goals down to win the tie though Hughes openly admits he didn’t contribute much to the triumph.

“I was hopelessly knackered,” he said.

Still, what a hero.

In an age where players and managers spend so much time complaining about cramped schedules and fixture congestion, let’s all appreciate the commitment and endurance of Sparky.