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Soccer star splits with wife who stood by him; SHAMED LEE HUGHES LEFT AT CHRISTMAS EXCLUSIVE.


SHAMED soccer star Lee Hughes has split with the wife who stood by him during his death crash trial, friends said last night. Pals say the former West Bromwich Albion striker ended his seven-year relationship with pretty mum-of-two Anna at Christmas. The Croatian-born beauty, 36, attended court to support Hughes when he went on trial accused of causing the death of car passenger Douglas Graham by dangerous driving, four years ago. The striker, 31, was eventually jailed for for six years after a court heard how he had lost control of his speeding pounds 100,000 Mercedes which crashed into another vehicle. Now a source has revealed Black Country-born Hughes split with the mother of his two young children at Christmas. "It was all very amicable from what I've heard and Lee is doing the best he can by his children," he said. "He loves them dearly and is absolutely devoted to them." Around the time of the split, Hughes was spotted being dropped off at New Street Station in Birmingham by another woman driving a powerful sports car. He shared a tender kiss with the mystery blonde before catching a train to Manchester to link up with his Oldham Athletic team-mates for a Christmas match fixture. The source said: "Lee is a great guy who made a terrible mistake, but he has paid the price and will always be sorry about what happened. "Now he is just trying to get on with the rest of his life. "He still gets upset when people refuse to serve him a drink or have a go at him, but he keeps his temper and gets on with things." Hughes married Croatian Anna Kuzmanic in her home country in 2000 before their first child, Mia was born. Their life seemed like a rags to riches story. As a young footballer Hughes was initially rejected by the Baggies, the team he had always supported. But an amazing amateur league goal-scoring record saw him catapulted into the big time and he was later signed up by Albion, becoming one of the club's most popular players. With his fame came the riches. Hughes boasted a pounds 16,000-a-week wage packet at the peak of his career and lived with his family in a pounds 750,000 mock Tudor mansion in the desirable Warwickshire village of Meriden. But his career lay in ruins after he was jailed for causing the death of Mr Graham, 56, in a late-night crash in November 2003. Coventry Crown Court heard how Hughes was driving too fast and "like a madman" in wet conditions before the smash near his home. He fled the scene before police arrived but later gave himself up. While in prison, the striker was confronted with newspaper claims that Anna had cheated on him with an office worker called Gareth. But the couple had an emotional "heart to heart" in Sudbury open prison which seemed to have saved their relationship. Hughes joined Coca Cola League One side Oldham Athletic in August after serving three years of his six-year jail sentence. The family of his victim condemned the club's decision to offer a new contract to the player. The Sunday Mercury made repeated requests to speak to Hughes about the marriage split through Oldham Athletic and his parents, but he refused to return our calls. Anna was also keeping tight-lipped when approached at her new family home in Smethwick. She said: "No comment at the moment."


SPLIT: Lee Hughes with his new team Oldham Athletic and (above, left to right) Anna arriving at court with the couple's daughter, tears after the star was jailed and face to face with our reporter
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jan 13, 2008
Previous Article:JACKSON FIVE.

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