TRIBUTES have been paid to a football manager who became a cult hero in the Netherlands.

Barry Hughes, died on June 2 aged 81 in his adopted home of Amsterdam and is remembered as a colourful character who left a significant mark on the Dutch game.

Among those paying tribute to Hughes on social media are his former protege and Chelsea coach Ruud Gullit, who he signed to HFC Haarlem in 1978, as well as former clubs Sparta Rotterdam and Go Ahead Eagles.

Gullit, who knew Hughes affectionately as the 'Boss', wrote on his Instagram account: "Thanks Barry for giving me the opportunity to become a professional football player.


RIP #barryhughes Thanks Barry for giving me a opportunity to become a professional football player. For believing in me and being a mentor for me. I will never forget you and you will be always in my heart. #rustzacht

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For always believing in me and being a mentor to me. I will never forget you and you are always in my heart."

Born on New Year’s Eve in 1937 in Caernarfon, Hughes began playing football at the former Glyndwr Secondary Modern school on Ernest Street, going on to walk through the arches of Wembley with the Flintshire Schoolboys Team at 14.

The following year, Hughes' professional career kicked off with the West Bromwich Albion youth team before moving to the continent six years later in search of new opportunities at just 21 with Blauw-Wit Amsterdam.

Hughes then move don to play at Alkmaar ‘54 - which became AZ Alkmaar in 1967 - where he earned the captain's armband and would be promoted to player manger in 1966.

He would go on to manage a string of Dutch football teams including HFC Haarlem, Go Ahead Eagles, Sparta Rotterdam, FC Utrecht, MVV and FC Volendam, where he became known to fans for his ever-present cloth cap and bald head.

The Leader:

Barry Hughes enjoying success as manager of Sparta Rotterdam. Picture: Twitter/ Sparta Rotterdam

While managing Haarlem in 1978, Hughes signed young player Ruud Gullit to his first ever professional football contract- a Ballon d'Or winner well known for his own iconic hairstyle - would himself go on to have a successful career with Inter Milan, PSV Eindhoven as well as becoming a player manger himself in the Premier League with Chelsea where he won the FA cup in 1996.

Also among the future superstars who honed their skills under Hughes, his former charge at Sparta Rotterdam Louis Van Gaal went on to take over from David Moyes at Manchester United in 2014, as well as having stints coaching football titans Ajax, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and the Netherlands national team.

He would become reacquainted with football fans back home 1978, where he was named December Personality of the Month by ITV show The Big Match for taunting a rival manager from the touchline by blowing a raspberry.

Paul Bolton, Hughes' cousin said: "He always had a great sense of humour, and while he wasn't as well known back home, the response on Dutch television this week has been huge. It's very touching.

Outside of the beautiful game, Hughes married Elles, a Dutch TV personality with whom he had three daughters and six grandchildren.

After retiring, he spent much of his time doing motivational speaking throughout Europe promoting team work and the importance of team building as well as appearances on Dutch television.

Mr Bolton added: "Barry was very much a family man, and he always kept in touch with his sister Jacqueline in Rhyl and his family back home, as well as his childhood friends.

Hughes’ funeral takes place on Friday, June 7 in the Netherlands.