A Spurs man through and through, Chris Hughton was one of the classiest players to play left-back for Tottenham and then went on to give great service to the club as a coach for the best part of 35 years.
Born in Forest Gate, East London, Chris came from a footballing family with his brother Henry also making the grade at Leyton Orient. Attended the local St. Bonaventure's Secondary School, which also produced John Chiedozie and Jermain Defoe, where Chris was chosen from to play in the Newham Boys side.
Joining Spurs as a junior, Hughton kept on with his apprenticeship as a lift engineer while making his way through the ranks at the club. A regular in the Youth side, Chris signed as a part-time professional at the end of May 1977 (while he continued his studies), training on Tuesday and Thursday nights and he forced his way into the side at a young age and showing pace to get forward and in recovery, he established his name on the team-sheet on a regular basis for many a year. Originally a winger, Hughton was converted to a defender where his pace came in useful. Chris was able to fill in on either side of the defence, with an ability to use either foot, there was evidence of his former position of a winger when he got forward, as he was capable of delivering the ball for strikers to get on the end of and could also finish with great aplomb, giving him a good scoring record for a full back. A good reader of the game and a tenacious tackler, Chris kept his attacking instincts and loved to overlap, linking up well with fellow Republic of Ireland international Tony Galvin on the left flank. His younger years saw him all arms and legs as he sprinted up the line, but his effectiveness could not be questioned.
Chris made his debut against Manchester United in 1979 and soon established himself as a regular in the side, with his polished displays. Went on to be a major player in the successful team of the early 1980s winning the FA Cup twice and the UEFA Cup. In the FA Cup Final of 1981 at Wembley, which Chris regards as one of his memorable matches, he got two front teeth kicked out by team-mate Graham Roberts in the replay as he ducked to head a ball that Roberts went to kick clear.
A great student of politics off the field, Chris was a learner through all of his career at Tottenham on it, with an appreciation of the finer parts of how the game should be played, as you might expect with team-mates such as Steve Perryman, Ossie Ardiles, Glenn Hoddle and Garth Crooks. His learning was to be put to good use in the years to come.
With further success in the FA Cup of 1982 and the UEFA Cup in 1984, there were times when things didn't turn out as planned, like the 1982 League Cup Final and the 1987 FA Cup Final. But the consistency of Hughton's play marked him out a a player of quality and he was not only successful on the domestic scene, but also became a regular in the Republic of Ireland side of the 1980s. The performances impressed watching Republic of Ireland manager Eoin Hand, who gave Chris his international debut to make him the first black player to represent the country. Hughton went on to make 53 appearances for his national side (qualified to play for the Republic through his mother) and he score done goal, against the USA in a friendly.
Having given great service to Tottenham with great performances throughout the 1980s, Hughton left Spurs and moved closer to his birthplace with a transfer to West Ham United in November 1990 where he played for two years making 32 appearances (plus one as a substitute). His stay at Upton Park was short and he moved on again, this time across London to Brentford, where he played for a season before retiring with a knee injury.
That was in 1993 and making progress in taking his coaching badges, Chris returned to Tottenham, where he took over the Reserve team and was responsible for bringing through the talented young players from the Youth system. His ability in this field was soon recognised and he has served as assistant manager to several Spurs managers and he stepped in as a caretaker manager for one game (a 0-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace on 24th November 1997) between appointments. Was also appointed as Republic of Ireland assistant manager under Brian Kerr between 2003 and 2005.
Many people claim that his role is nothing more than a nominal one, but he is a highly regarded coach and has developed a great understanding with Martin Jol since he took over as Head Coach, with the team reaping the benefits with two successive fifth place finishes (2005-06 and 2006-07) and good cup runs in the latter of those two season too, as the club strives to break into the top four in the country.
Finally removed from his post when Jol was sacked, but soon was back in work as assistant manager at Newcastle United and stood in as caretaker
Serving at Spurs under ten different managers and taking the role on a caretaker basis between some of their tenures, but was never given the chance to take the reins full-time and when Martin Jol was unceremoniously dismissed in November 2007, Hughton's time at Tottenham came to a sad end.
However, this gave Hughton the opportunity to gain a place at another club for himself and Newcastle United was his destination, where he was first appointed as a coach in February 2008 under Kevin Keegan, but then became assistant manager and when the team were struggling near the bottom of the Premier League in August 2008, the caretaker's job before Joe Kinnear took over as interim manager. When Kinnear needed heart surgery, Hughton was once more in charge, but this time Alan Shearer was given the job until the end of the season, so Chris returned to his assistant's post. However, with Newcastle being relegated and Shearer not willing to take the post full-time, Hughton was given the job temporarily and then permanently, with Colin Calderwood, who had joined him from Nottingham Forest as a coach. In his first full season in charge, he guided Newcastle back to the Premier League as Championship champions, but was sacked by the club halfway through their first season back in the top flight.
Found a new post at Birmingham City, as manager of the recently relegated Midlands club and teamed up with Colin Calderwood again, when the latter was sacked by Hibernian and moved to St. Andrews as Hughton's assistant. They did well on very tight budgets to take the team to the play-offs, but fell at the semi-final stage and the Bluenoses did not stand in Chris' way when Norwich City made an approach and he was installed as the new manager on 7th June 2012.
When he hit a run of poor results at Carrow Road, he was sacked in April 2014 and faced with a number of offers of assistant manager roles at Premier League clubs, Chris found a new home for his managerial talent at Brighton & Hove Albion in the Championship in December of that year. Within two and a half years, Brighton won automatic promotion to the Premier League, where they established themselves as a team comfortable in the top flight. Such was his success with the Seagulls that he became the first black manager ot win the Manager of the Month award for February 2018.
Chris' brother Henry played for Leyton Orient and his son Cian was with Spurs and then Lincoln City.