Wolves deserve to be back in European football: says Darius Vassell
FORMER England striker, Darius Vassell believes Wolverhampton Wanderers deserve to be back in European competition for the first time in 39 years as a reward for playing football 'the right way'.
The English Premiership club host Irish League outfit, Crusaders at a sold-out Molineux tonight in the Europa League second round qualifier.
Wolves were one of England's premier teams in the 1950s, winning the league three times while they also contested the very first UEFA Cup Final in 1972 when they lost to Tottenham Hotspur over two legs.
And Vassell, who is currently in Derry in his role as youth coach for Wolves who are competing in the O'Neills Foyle Cup tournament in the city, is delighted to see the West Midlands club back where they belong.
The ex-Aston Villa and Man City striker insists the success of Nuno Espirito Santo's side has shown what's achievable at top level football by sticking rigidly to his fluid and yet disciplined, counter-attacking style.
"It's massive for the club being back in Europe," said Vassell. "To have the right staff and the right people in place to take the club on further has reaped its benefits.
"They are pushing in the right direction with the right ownership and leadership, good backroom, good support. The part of the role we've taken on as youth team coaches here is just to try and help solidify those dreams and maximise that journey for the young kids.
"We try to play practically the same way as the first team," he explained. "We try and have a system of belief within the team about how we want to go about doing our job. A unity and working together, leadership and communication qualities and we are trying to follow the first team. They have set a high standard.
"When you talk about the first team, they are showing a great example of how to play football the right way and what is achievable if you do that.
"We're looking forward to seeing where the first team can take this style of play. And if they win something significant along the way I think they will deserve it. They've come such a long way in such a short period of time that it would be great to see them lift some silverware."
Wolves finished seventh on their return to the Premier League last season and reached the FA Cup semi-finals and this season they will be joined in the English top flight by Brum neighbours, Aston Villa.
So where does Vassell's allegiances lay as his current employers prepare to renew rivalries with the club where he began his professional football career, having spent seven years at Villa Park?
"Obviously my allegiances will always lie with Wolves as that's who employ me and where I'm doing my work right now," claimed the striker who was capped 22 times by England.
"Obviously I will always have a soft spot for my former clubs, Aston Villa, Manchester City and Leicester City and you can never change that.
"But right now, when I'm doing my work and getting my experience achieving my qualifications at Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club, I need to help push them in the right direction and really look for an end product for all the work which has been going on.
"Having said that, it's great to see Villa back where they belong."