Conor Coady says he knows all about Wolves’ history in Europe – but wants the current team to make their own.
Wolves host Espanyol tonight in the Europa League round of 32. The first-leg tie is the first European knockout the club has hosted since October 1980 when they went out of the UEFA Cup to PSV Eindhoven.
The Molineux side were seen as trailblazers in European football in the 1950s when Stan Cullis’s side beat many of the continent’s best as a forerunner to the European Cup.
Then just over a decade later, Bill McGarry’s side went all the way to the final of the inaugural UEFA Cup in 1971-72, going out to Tottenham.
Coady wants Nuno Espirito Santo’s side to emulate the great teams of the past by making their own history.
“When you become part of this football club, it’s something you hear about,” said the 26-year-old sweeper.
“But we focus on ourselves and make sure we do it right tonight.
“It’s been a wonderful experience and something we’ve enjoyed up to now, but we don’t want to look back and say we enjoyed it – we want to compete as much as we can.
“That’s what we’ve done up to now, so we look back and are proud, but also look at the game and make sure we’re ready for a real battle. It’s something we’re looking forward to.”
Wolves will be playing their 13th European game this season tonight and face their 14th next week when they play the return leg in Barcelona.
Should they repeat the heroics of McGarry’s team and reach the final in Gdansk, Poland in May, they will have played a massive 21 matches in the Europa League in 2019-20.
Coady said from the outset the squad were determined to maximise their time in the competition and make it as special as possible.
“It’s been amazing. It was something we said last season, that if we got the opportunity, we wanted to make the most of it,” said the skipper.
“If you go back to the start (of the season) we went to Torino and places like that and they’re amazing places, they really are.
“It’s something whereby we wanted to embrace it as much as possible and improve and take it on board.”
With bigger names filtering into the competition now from the Champions League, there could be even bigger ties ahead for Wolves, if they overcome Espanyol. But you won’t find Coady looking too far ahead.
“Yes, but that was the same when we first started this journey,” he said.
“We just take it game by game and that will never change.
“It’s the philosophy we use, and this is a great game we’re really looking forward to.”