MARK ‘Sparky’ Hughes is about to become a manager at Saints for the second time.

Hughes, who was named Wales manager while still playing at The Dell, came to Saints for the first time in 1998 in the twilight of his career.

By then the Welshman had won virtually everything in English football as a player.

At Manchester United he won the FA Cup thrice, the Premier League twice and the League Cup once.

At Chelsea, he lifted the FA Cup again and at Blackburn Rovers won his second League Cup.

Hughes, a top-class forward in his day, won PFA Young Players of the Year and also Players’ Player of the Year.

In 1986/87, he played for Barcelona and following that campaign he went to German giants Bayern Munich.

He had a glittering career which was winding down by the time he arrived at The Dell.

Dave Jones brought him to the south coast in a £650,000 deal from Chelsea as an alternative option to David Hirst.

Hughes, then 35, was determined to continue his playing career.

However, he struggled in a poor Saints side.

By the time he exited for Everton in March 2000, he had more bookings than goals for Saints.

In the end, he had scored twice in 60 appearances in the all competitions.

Before Hughes left for the Toffees, though, he had been named manager of Wales.

It was the first time Saints could boast an international manager in their forward line.

Before retiring and focusing completely on management, Hughes won the League Cup with Blackburn Rovers.

After that, he hung up his boots at the ripe old age of 38 and concentrated on his duties with Wales.

It was back at Ewood Park in 2004 that Hughes started his career as a club manager.

He was tasked with keeping Rovers in the top-flight and duly suceeded, while also taking the club to the FA Cup semi-final for the first time in 40 years.

The following campaign, he led them to a top-six finish in the elite, before finishing tenth in his penultimate term in charge.

In his final season, Blackburn shot back up the league, finishing seventh.

Manchester City came calling for Hughes in 2008, but he was sacked in December 2009 and replaced by Roberto Mancini with the club’s new owners unhappy with a run of two wins in 11 Premier League games.

Hughes moved onto Fulham and was the first to take the Cottagers into the Europa League, but resigned after 11 months at the club in June 2011, stating he wanted to ‘further his experiences’ elsewhere.

In January 2012, he moved to relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers, replacing Neil Warnock.

They stayed up by the skin of their teeth, but the following campaign Hughes lost his job with QPR in bother at the bottom.

It came down to a six-pointer at Saints, which Rangers lost 3-1 and Hughes was replaced by Harry Redknapp, who couldn’t save the Loftus Road outfit.

At the end of 2012/13, Hughes replaced Tony Pulis at Stoke and there he stayed for the subsequent four-and-a-half years, leading the Potters to three ninth-place finishes in a row.

In January, Hughes was sacked by Stoke after a 2-1 defeat to League Two Coventry in the FA Cup, which was his 200th in all competitions as Potters boss. 

He was fourth longest-serving manager at a Premier League club and became the seventh managerial casualty of the season.