Hughes relishes pressure
By Patrick Whyte
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Charlton Athletic's Carling Cup hero loves the stress of penalty shoot-outs
Charlton Athletic's penalty shoot-out hero Bryan Hughes has revealed his love of the pressure situation.
The midfielder's penalty caused a third round shock at Stamford Bridge, and proved to the rest of The Premiership that Chelsea are not invincible.
Hughes admits to seizing the opportunity to take the decisive penalty. Twice before he has slotted home the fifth spot kick, against Watford in the 1999 play-off semi-final and in the 2001 League Cup final against Liverpool. Although on both previous occasions his conversion was not decisive as the shoot-out went to sudden death.
"I like the feeling of being the hero or villain," he said in The Times. "I like the responsibility. There's a 50-50 chance that I'll win it or I'll lose it. In all the cases so far, I've always scored, so it seems to have stuck and I've always wanted to take the fifth. Although, actually, that's the first time I've been the hero.
"It was nice, after waiting so long, that it actually happened against the champions. I knew exactly where I was going to put it. I turned round and the whole team were running towards me. It was a great feeling.
"I'm prepared to take that pressure and deal with it. Last night it was nice to get the glory. I've been in the dark for the past 18 months, really. I've been part of the squad and not established myself as I would have liked."
Hughes has been at The Valley for just over a year, following a free transfer from Birmingham City, but has found his chances in the first team limited following the displays of Danny Murphy, Alexei Smertin and Radostin Kishishev in the Charlton midfield.
"I didn't expect to walk into the team, but always believed that I would manage to get in. But it's taking a long time - two or three games here, two or three there.
"You want to play every game but you have to stay focused and prepared to get in there. I was disappointed at the start of the first game because I thought I was going to be in the first XI, but the manager [Alan Curbishley] went a certain way and we've had the results since then. I'm a professional and I've got to be able to take it, and I know that sooner or later my chance will come. I have had a word with him and see where he's coming from.
"Alan knows what I'm capable of. Often I've come on away from home when we've been protecting a lead but I like to get forward and hope that when I do get called on I can chip in with a goal."