During the course of his international career, Mark Hughes scored a number of memorable goals during his 72 appearances for his country between 1984 and 1999.

However, he is best remembered for one of the first of his 16 goals, as the striker shook the foundations of the Racecourse with his famous volley against Spain in April 1985.

The talented Spanish side arrived at the Racecourse with manager Miguel Munoz far from assured of a booking a place at the 1986 FIFA World Cup finals in Mexico. Cymru and Scotland also remained very much in contention in Group 7, and more than that particular story is featured elsewhere in our chapter on World Cup near misses.

Spain had claimed a comfortable 3-0 victory over Mike England’s Cymru in Seville earlier in the campaign, but there had been a marked improvement in the performances and results since that defeat, with the side registering victories over Iceland and Scotland ahead of this return match.

Cymru boasted a familiar list of names during that qualifying campaign which included goalkeeper Neville Southall, Kevin Ratcliffe, Peter Nicholas, Mickey Thomas and Robbie James. However, it was the forward pairing of Hughes and Ian Rush that inspired the optimism and belief amongst fans that this team could finally exorcise the ghosts of 1958. This would be the night that the duo vindicated that belief.

Over 23,000 fans were in attendance at Wrexham on that Tuesday evening, and the celebrations started just before half-time when Rush put the side ahead. The Liverpool striker would score twice in the famous 3-0 win, but it was the goal from Hughes early in the second half that defined this fixture for years to come.

Aged just 21 and already making a big impression at Old Trafford with his performances for Manchester United, Hughes was enjoying what would prove to be the best season of his career. With a return of 24 goals in 55 competitive club appearances, the striker was clearly on the radar of Europe’s elite, and one year later he made the switch to Barcelona.

However, our focus returns to that famous night in Wrexham. Representing his country near his home village of Ruabon against the EURO 1984 finalists, the confidence that Hughes had in his own ability at the time was never more apparent than when he found himself in space on the edge of the Spanish area after 53 minutes.

A Cymru free-kick had only been partially cleared as the visitors became increasingly desperate for an equaliser, but time stood still as Hughes threw himself into the air. With his body in a horizontal position, Hughes made the perfect connection with a sideways scissor-kick that gave goalkeeper Luis Arconada no chance of stopping. It remains a key moment in Welsh football history, although Spain would eventually qualify for the finals, while Cymru narrowly missed out yet again.

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