Darren Boyce says he finally feels like be belongs at Glentoran as he continues his second spell at the club with a shot at European glory.
The former Coleraine ace hopes the Glens can fight back from a 2-1 scoreline in the Europa League first qualifying round second leg against Macedonian side FC Renova at the Oval tonight (7.45).
It was an eventful competitive return for Boyce in Glentoran colours as he ended up donning the goalkeeping gloves in Macedonia after Elliott Morris’ dismissal.
Morris is suspended for tonight’s rematch, along with Jamie McGovern who also saw red in the opening clash, but there is still plenty of belief in manager Scott Young’s dressing room.
Boyce had a previous spell with the Glens in 2008, when he made 37 appearances for the club but he feels a lot more comfortable and wanted in east-Belfast these days.
Stephen Carson, who could be on the bench this evening, also joined the Glens from Coleraine in the summer but Boyce needs no introduction to many of his new team-mates.
And he maintains he has nothing to prove, despite not being given the opportunity to sparkle under previous boss Alan McDonald.
“I’ve got my confidence back and I feel I belong here,” said the 25-year-old who suddenly feels like an elder statesman at the Oval given the influx of young talent coming through the ranks.
“When you feel wanted as a player you can play your natural game and I’ve always known I can score goals and improve if given an opportunity.
“It feels like I have never been away and hopefully I can help the team win more trophies.
“It was an unusual start, going in goals after Elliott’s dismissal but I have done it a few times at Coleraine. However, I don’t plan to make a habit of it.”
Boyce, who netted 68 goals in 190 appearances in two spells at Coleraine, knows a 1-0 home win would catapult the Glens into the next round but he still believes the task ahead is a huge one.
“FC Renova are a good side and they kept the ball very well,” he added.
“But if we can get at them in the wide areas we can hurt them. We can beat them but it’s not going to be easy and people would be very wrong to think that. The really disappointing thing about the first leg were the refereeing decisions as there were a lot of bookings.
“In the Irish league many of the tackles would have been acceptable. They were good tackles.”