Andrew Hughes has paid a heartfelt tribute to Leeds United supporters – and insists his time at Elland Road saved his footballing career.
The hugely-popular utility man left the club at the end of last week to join Championship strugglers Scunthorpe United on a free transfer, penning an 18-month contract with the Iron.
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It brought an end to a memorable three-and-a-half year stint with United, which the 33-year-old, pictured left, says he will never, ever forget.
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Hughes, who was the first player to join the Whites following their 15-point deduction for not following rules on clubs entering administration ahead of the 2007-08 campaign, told the YEP: "It's as simple as this. It's been the biggest honour of my footballing and working life to play for this club. I genuinely mean that.
"It's one of the best places to live and work and was a genuine honour to play in front of those fans and wear the white shirt of Leeds United.
"I can't thank the fans enough. I know it sounds like a cliche in a way, but Leeds United saved my football career and gave me life again.
"It was an unbelievable time."
Hughes admits he has left United with a heavy heart, although he is at
pains to point that he has no axe to grind with boss Simon Grayson, a person and a manager he can't speak highly enough of.
And he is confident Grayson and United can finish off the job this season and return Leeds to the Premiership Promised Land they vacated so unceremoniously in May 2004, with the Whites boss the man to bring back the glory years to the club.
Hughes added: "It was always going to be a sad day leaving Leeds United. It's one of the best clubs in the world.
"I was privileged enough to captain them and play for them. It was always going to be a sad day leaving because wherever you go, people know Leeds United.
"So I'm not happy at leaving Leeds. Any player that leaves Leeds United happy is not a true footballer in my eyes.
"But I've been given an opportunity at Scunthorpe. They are a little bit of bother at the minute and I want to go in there and do well for them and fight for my first-team place.
"But there's no hard grudges in leaving. The manager was absolutely superb with me, I've got to say that."
On whether United have what it takes to achieve promotion, he said: "One hundred per cent. I don't think there's any better time than now to go for promotion - why not...
"Leeds are in the top six, let's back the manager and give him some money and get some top, top players in there."
While he has left United, Hughes insists he'd love to return to the club in another capacity at some point in the future once his playing career ends.
He added: "If the club ever needs anything off me, I'll be there. I've got my sports science degree and I'd love to come back one day and work for the club and support it."
Meanwhile, Whites' ace Ramon Nunez is celebrating after helping Honduras to their third Central American Cup title following their 2-1 final victory over Costa Rica in Panama City - their first success in the competition since 1995.
Nunez scored two goals in the group stages for Honduras, netting a last-gasp leveller in the 1-1 draw with Costa Rica and the 3-1 win over Guatemala.