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Hughes Back At Kidderminster

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GOAL-SCORING hero Lee Hughes has said Kidderminster Harriers were always his number one choice.

The 38-year-old made an emotional return to the club where he began his football career after 18 years away, when he signed on the dotted line until the end of the season.

The hitman has joined aiming to find the goals to boost the Aggborough outfit's play-off push in the Vanarama Conference.

Harriers had to be patient in their pursuit of Hughes, who now lives in Hagley with his family, but finally got their man when his contract at Forest Green Rovers was terminated by mutual consent.

Hughes, who will wear the number 35 shirt, has also taken a sizeable pay cut to play for the club which gave him the chance to demonstrate his goal-scoring talents.

He said: "I always wanted to come back to Harriers and give something back to the club where it all started for me and the fans.

"Harriers mean an awful lot to me, it's where it all started and I owe the club and Graham Allner my career as a professional footballer.

"It's great to come back and still see a lot of friendly faces and I can't wait to get started."

Hughes joined Harriers' youth team after leaving West Bromwich Albion as a youngster but burst into Allner's Harriers' side as a semi-professional, while holding down a job as a roofer.

The Ginger Ninja was prolific, scoring 70 goals in 139 games, which caught the eye of his boyhood heroes Albion and earned him a move to the Hawthorns for an initial £200,000, a fee which rose to £380,000 based on appearances and a friendly against the Albion.

The forward was a revelation, scoring 79 goals in 156 games before signing for Coventry City in the 2001 for £500,0001, a move which earned Harriers a further £693,000 Hughes returned to Albion in the summer in 2002 and helped guide the Baggies back to the Premier League in the 2003-04 campaign, only to have his contract cancelled after he was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving.

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But he rebuilt his career upon his release in 2007 at Oldham Athletic, scoring 25 goals before a switch to Notts County, where he struck 59 times in 129 appearances. He delivered more goals during spells with Port Vale (13) and Forest Green (15).

"When I left at Harriers I was playing on the left wing and it was at West Bromwich Albion I was turned into a centre forward," commented the forward.

"But I've been lucky to work with lots of really good managers like Ray Harford, Gordon Strachan and many others during my career and I can see what Gary Whild and Mark Creighton are trying to achieve.

"I still feel able to score lots of goals. I managed seven in 13 starts at Forest Green Rovers but every time I scored I wasn't picked for the next game.

"I hope I can score the goals Harriers need, they've been looking for someone to put them away regularly and hopefully I will.

"Harriers are in a great position and there is a chance the team can take. It would be amazing for the club and the players if we made the play-offs."

The forward, who has also been helping his brother Clint coaching Harriers U12s, added: "I spoke to Micky Adams at Tranmere in December and I had offers from League Two clubs but I had made my mind up about coming back to Harriers.

"I am not on big money, I had bigger offers from the level above, but it wasn't about money for me, it was all about giving something back to the town.

"I am 38 but I am a naturally fit lad and I think I can continue playing for as long as I can."

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