Hughes 'honoured' to take up the reins at Hibernian

Former player was one of favourites for job after leading Falkirk to cup final

John Hughes was yesterday unveiled as Hibernian manager after signing a three-year contract with the Edinburgh club. The 44-year-old left Falkirk on Monday to return to the side he played for between 1996 and 2000.

Hughes, who was also widely linked with the vacant manager's job at Swansea, succeeds former Hibs team-mate Mixu Paatelainen, who quit almost two weeks ago after 16 months in charge.

"I'm just honoured and privileged to be here. It's a wonderful opportunity for me," Hughes said yesterday. "I'm hoping that I can bring a blend of football, style of football, attacking football.

"I hope to invigorate the staff who are already here, get the best out of them, inspire them, and hopefully we can get success. I'm really looking forward to the challenge and I cannot wait until I start working with the players.

"Obviously, we're in the close season but the work has already started. We're spinning a few plates and I'm trying to do the best that I can for Hibernian Football Club."

Hughes – who led Falkirk to last season's Homecoming Scottish Cup final – was one of the favourites for the job from the outset, despite reports he did not get on with chairman Rod Petrie.

However, the new manager laughed off those suggestions and Petrie expressed delight at securing Hughes' services. He said: "John is a very experienced manager – almost 300 games under his belt, and anybody who saw the performance of his team in the recent cup final would know what his teams are capable of in terms of attacking and competitive football. Our discussions with Falkirk were firm but fair and we're grateful to them for eventually giving us permission to have conversations and reach agreement with John, and hopefully [assistant] Brian Rice in due course.

"John's a big personality. Everybody he's come in contact with at the club has been enthused by his passion, his commitment, his vision for the club, the things that he hopes to achieve. He's energised everybody and I'm sure will galvanise everybody connected with Hibernian Football Club to drive us forward."

Falkirk, who will play in next season's Europa Cup, having finished as runners-up to Rangers in the Scottish Cup, have drawn up a shortlist to replace Hughes that is believed to include John Hartson and Steven Pressley – the former Scotland defender having just retired as a Falkirk player. Pressley has been assisting George Burley with coaching duties for the national side.

Neighbours Hearts, meanwhile, will host Sunderland as the visitors put the finishing touches to their preparations for the new Barclays Premier League campaign.

Steve Bruce's men will take on the Scottish Premier League side, who finished third last season, at Tynecastle on 8 August. The game, which will see Sunderland's record £9m signing Craig Gordon return to his former club, will take place just a week before the Premier League gets under way.

The Black Cats will also be taking part in the Amsterdam Tournament along with Ajax, Atletico Madrid and Benfica.