It was a different time and a different kind of football. It was not the first time it had happened, nor was it the last, but the story of how Manchester United legend and former England manager Mark Hughes played for Wales and Bayern Munich on the same day deserves to be told.
It was two men who managed the plan in secret, Mark himself, who had just made his debut in Munich and wanted to play, and Bayern’s managing director Uli Hoeness, who was determined that the Welsh striker should be in the second leg of their cup tie against Borussia Monchengladbach. It took two meetings, 340 km (340 km between Prague and Munich), a private jet, a change of clothes on the plane and Hoeness’ official car to get Hughes to the Olympiastadion in time for the game.
The game was 0-1 to the visitors and the players returned to the field from the tunnel for the second half, but suddenly Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes sent a player to the touchline to warm up, it was none other than Mark Hughes, who two hours earlier was in Prague playing with his national team. The stadium went crazy.
Mark Hughes would go on to become a legend at the club of his life Manchester United, but he was one of the brave Britons – there are not many – who left the islands to play in the European leagues. Terry Venables was Barcelona’s manager in 1986 and the Englishman brought two of his league’s rising stars, Gary Lineker and Mark Hughes, to Spain.
Lineker worked at Camp Barça but not Mark, who soon realised that his playing career was in jeopardy as he had signed for eight years with the club and the foreign work permit still required him to stay away from the islands for at least another year to avoid mortgaging himself in taxes. In addition his main supporter Venables had left the bench and Hughes had no choice but to continue one more year in Barcelona … until he got an offer to go on loan to Bayern Munich, the Welsh international did not even think about it.
I arrived and kissed the saint. He made his debut on 7 November 1987 without having played more than two games in several months in a league match with a goal and an assist against Bayer 05 Uerdingen. Everything that didn’t work out in Barcelona appeared in the debut in Germany. Uli Hoeness wanted to build on that momentum to secure a place in the next round of the German Cup after they had drawn 2-2 with Borussia in the first leg. But there was a problem… the same day of the match, Mark was playing with his national team against Czechoslovakia for a place at the 1988 European Championship.
The Bayern manager and the Welsh international met days before the match, the German asked him what time he was playing Wales, “at 16:30” Hughes replied, to which Hoeness replied “then no problem, you can play at night”. Hughes was stunned as to how this could be logistically possible, but he trusted him. Hoeness’ plan was in place.
On 11 November 1987, Mark Hughes started the decisive game in the 1988 European Championship match against Czechoslovakia in Prague. He played all ninety minutes, but was unable to qualify for the national team as they lost 2-0 to the Czech team. Without time for regrets, or to change, while his teammates were leaving for the dressing room, he left the stadium where he was picked up by a car heading to the nearest airport. He had another game to play.
In Munich, the Hughes-less Bayern bled in the first half and went into the break with a tough 1-0 lead. Hoeness had hidden the fact that the Welsh striker would be playing in the game from his team-mates and even his coach, and no one could believe it when the Bayern manager showed up in the dressing room with the player. Heynckes quickly had him warming up on the wing. The shock of seeing him encouraged his team, his fans and left his rivals in shock.
Hughes came on in the 63rd minute of the second half at 0-1 and Bayern managed to equalise and take the game into extra time with a goal from legend Lothar Matthäus. In extra time, Bayern managed to snatch victory and a narrow 3-2 win thanks to a double from Michael Rummenigge.
No one can say that the game was won by Mark Hughes. He himself, years later, commented as follows: “I am a man of the world.I’d like to say I turned it around, but I didn’t because I was desperately knackered”. PBut what is undeniable is that Uli Hoeness’ plan worked and that the Welshman’s presence could have tipped the balance in the Bavarians’ favour.