It brought him the best days of his career – and Motherwell assistant Keith Lasley says his side must relish their Europa League run.
The Well take to European competition again tomorrow night as they travel to Northern Ireland to face Coleraine in a Europa League second qualifying round match.
A trip to Albania or Israel to face Laci or Hapoel Be’er Sheva awaits the winner. Motherwell dispatched of another Northern Irish team in the first round, sweeping past Glentoran 5-1.
Assistant Lasley is well-versed in European adventures with Motherwell. He’s been involved in every Well campaign overseas in the UEFA Cup or Europa League since 2008.
On their return to the competition for the first time since 2014, Lasley says they are games to savour: “It’s difficult for a club of our size to get into Europe and that’s why we have to make the most of this opportunity, because it is an achievement for this club to be in European football.
“There were a lot of ups and downs but just being involved in it was a massive up, it was certainly the highlight of my career, being involved in European football for Motherwell as many times as we did. But the ones you remember are the ones (where) we went through.
“It’s nice being involved in competitions but the good memories you have are getting through and that’s what we are looking to do this week. We worked so hard to get into this position and we want to try and make the most of it.
“We would much rather have normal circumstances where it’s two legs and our fans are involved in both games, which brings so much more to the party. But that’s where we are and we have got to deal with that.
“It becomes more of a one-off and more of an anything-can-happen feel to it but we have still got to back ourselves over one game, or two, that we can progress however hard that will be. I fully believed we could get back to this level but now that we are here, we have to use it.”
Whilst Coleraine may be part time, they won’t be easy opposition for Motherwell. They managed to edge past seasoned European side Maribor in the last round of the competition, showing what they are capable of.
Their manager, former St Mirren boss Oran Kearney, is someone Lasley and Well manager Stephen Robinson know well, so they are aware of what’s coming at the Showgrounds.
“You see the result they got in the last round away to Maribor, who are a well versed European side in both the Europa League and the Champions League,” Lasley said.
“We watched that game as part of our analysis and we know they are a determined side, like Glentoran, and it did take until the last 20 minutes or half an hour for us to eventually get on top of the match.
“We expect nothing less, it will be a tough game, they will be very well organised, we know Oran well and they will show organisation and determination, especially on their own patch.
“We know what we are up against and hopefully that Glentoran game has given us a feel for the game, and the Maribor game. The players are well warned and know what to expect.”