Alan Curtis has hailed the importance of Swansea City’s Europa League adventure as they look to take a big step towards qualification from the Group Stage on Thursday night.
The Swans host Russian side Kuban Krasnodar at the Liberty (8.05pm) hoping to make it a perfect three wins from three in Group A.
A memorable 3-0 win in Valencia kicked off their campaign before Michael Laudrup’s side followed that up with a narrow 1-0 victory over Swiss outfit St Gallen at the Liberty.
And now, as the Capital One Cup holders prepare to welcome Kuban to South West Wales, Curtis has pointed out the many positives they have already benefited from.
“It has been great for the club – everyone has enjoyed it so far,” he said.
“I think the tournament has benefited us in the Premier League too. When we went to West Brom and Crystal Palace we were more match-hardened compared to them and a bit ahead in terms of match fitness.
“You benefit so much from playing in different countries and stadiums which create a different atmosphere, like we already have in Sweden, Romania and Spain.
“You become a stronger player for it because it they are new experiences that help you deal with certain situations better.
“Certainly, for our players, the Europa League has brought massive benefits.
“We are reaching a new audience too. I’ve had people get in touch with me all over Europe saying how they enjoy watching us as they’ve managed to see us on TV.”
While the players have benefited from the Europa League campaign, Curtis also feels it has been a great reward to the Jack Army for their support.
He added: “No matter where we are, the supporters make us feel like we are at home.
“It’s incredible. We are well aware of how difficult it is to make it out to the places we have been.
“To see around 2,000 fans at the Mestalla was phenomenal. Hearing them singing away gives us a real lift.
“And I think that’s one day the fans will never forget.
“We’re all looking forward to Thursday night and hopefully our fans will be cheering us on to another victory – that would be a nice way to end the first round of games in the Group Stage.”
While Curtis now forms part of Laudrup’s coaching staff at the Liberty, the Swans legend has fond European memories of his own.
He was part of the squad which featured in the club’s Euro campaign during the early 1980s – which included the club-record 13-0 win over Sliema Wanderers - with facing Argentinian ace Ossie Ardlies a particular highlight.
“We didn’t get very far in Europe, but we had some great occasions,” he added.
“Playing Paris St Germain was a highlight. They had Ossie Ardiles in their side, and they came to the Vetch first before we went to France.
“We also played out in Malta and in Eastern Germany against Lokomotiv Leipzig. I remember the game well out there because I actually got sent off!
“But apart from that, I’ve got some fond memories, and one which I am glad I could experience during my playing days.”
There are still tickets available for Swansea's home fixtures against Kuban Krasnodar and West Ham United.
More information can be found HERE