Derry City defender Stephen Gray is hungry to return to Europe next season after the Candystripes Europa League adventure ended last night.
Disappointed following a 2-1 aggregate defeat to CSKA Sofia, he declared that the squad is determined to move up the League of Ireland table to ensure European football again in 2010.
“Obviously we are disappointed to get knocked out, but everyone of the players loves playing in Europe and we want to be doing it every year,” said Gray.
“Derry City has to be in Europe, because it’s a big club and it needs to be playing European football.
“The crowds in all our matches in Europe have been brilliant, the atmosphere has been super and we want more of the same next season, by bringing big teams to the Brandywell.
“CSKA are a top team and we knew it was going to be a tall order, but we were hoping our fairytale would continue. It didn’t happen even though everyone gave their all and worked very hard.”
Gray felt Stephen Kenny’s tactics were working right up until Brazilian Marcos Malachias’ 69th minute long range free-kick, which effectively ended the tie as a contest.
“We had a game plan and I suppose it worked in the end because we were looking to use our set-pieces, long throw-in’s and corners and we scored from a set-piece, but we conceded one.
“It was a strange goal because Malachias hit it and it went around the wall and went in.”