Jamie Mulgrew’s drive to push on with Linfield in Europe

Linfield captain Jamie Mulgrew created club history on Saturday but considers breaking records during European progress simply a stepping stone towards future goals.

Linfield captain Jamie Mulgrew in Switzerland. Pic courtesy of UEFA.
Linfield captain Jamie Mulgrew in Switzerland. Pic courtesy of UEFA.

A 37th appearance in European football for the Blues by Mulgrew during the weekend 2-0 victory over Tre Fiori moved the skipper beyond Linfield legend Noel Bailie in the all-time statistics.

However, Mulgrew’s focus remains on the result and reward of a spot in the Champions League preliminary final today against Kosovo’s Drita.

The evening clash in Switzerland presents Linfield a shot at European progress into the first qualifying round of the Champions League - or, in defeat, another Europa League opportunity.

Mulgrew and his Linfield team-mates enjoyed some superb moments in last year’s Europa League qualifiers and the captain is hungry for more.

“Last year was a brilliant journey for everyone at the club and it has given us the hunger and determination to try and replicate that and go one step further,” said Mulgrew on the official club website. “It’s a big ask but there’s no harm in us dreaming and striving to be better than what we were last season.

“We got that hunger last year and we’re all of the same mindset that we want to continue that journey on this year if possible.

“We have a fantastic squad and a big squad so we are all fighting for places.

“Drita are a team we have watched now so we have more information on them.

“They possess a lot of threats and players who can be dangerous to us, so it won’t be an easy match.”

Victory today over Drita would set up a first qualifying round clash with Legia Warsaw.

Linfield would have home advantage against Armenia Ararat or Omonia Nicosia if they managed to reach the Champions League second qualifying round.

Irish Cup winners Glentoran could face a Motherwell side managed by former Northern Ireland international Stephen Robinson following yesterday’s European draws.

The Glens’ preliminary round date with Faroe Islands’ HB Torshavn on August 20 offers Motherwell as the reward in the Europa League first qualifying round.

Coleraine’s prize for progress beyond La Fiorita of San Marino would be a meeting against Slovenia’s Maribor.

Those Europa League first qualifying round fixtures are scheduled for August 27.

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