Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

We can win it, say Fulham's Northern Ireland stars

Northern Ireland skipper Aaron Hughes is hoping unfancied Fulham can stun Atletico Madrid in tonight’s Europa League final

Aaron Hughes is ready to take a final step to European glory.

And the Northern Ireland captain is convinced that Fulham’s amazing Europa League story is set up to have a happy ending.

Roy Hodgson’s side have battled against the odds to reach tonight's Hamburg decider against Atletico Madrid.

They have overcome such star studded teams as Italian giants Roma and Juventus, German champions Wolfsburg and last season’s UEFA Cup winners Shakhtar Donetsk to reach the final.

And Hughes insists he and his Craven Cottage team-mates — which includes his Northern Ireland colleague Chris Baird — aren’t going to let the dream end now.

“There’s no reason why we can’t win it,” said Hughes.

“We’ve done the same things all the way along in Europe, whether it’s been Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus, Wolfsburg or Hamburg.

“We’ll be going out in the final with those same things in mind. That’s what got us here and there’s no reason to change anything now.

“When you get to a final of anything in any sport you know that the opposition is going to be good — otherwise they wouldn’t have made it that far — but we’re confident in how we go about things and we believe in our style of play.

“We’re in a position where we can win the Europa League, we want to win it and we believe we can win it.”

It is 35 years since Fulham last reached a final, when despite having Bobby Moore in their team they lost the FA Cup to West Ham.

Atletico ruined Liverpool’s hopes of making it an all-English final when they knocked the Anfield side out in the semi-finals, thanks to a goal in each leg from former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan.

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