Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders star Caddell desperate to set up Wolves tie and erase Fulham heartache

Crusaders v B36 Torshavn, Europa League First Qualifying Round, Seaview, Thursday, 6.00pm

Bad break: Declan Caddell missed Crusaders’ 2011 clash with Fulham through injury
Bad break: Declan Caddell missed Crusaders’ 2011 clash with Fulham through injury

By Steven Beacom

Declan Caddell has more reason than most to inspire Crusaders in their bid to set up a dream European tie with Premier League outfit Wolves.

To do so, the Crues must overcome B36 Torshavn in their Europa League opening qualifying round tie, with the first leg at Seaview on Thursday night before next week's return in the Faroe Islands.

Midfielder Caddell is fiercely determined to deliver for the north Belfast club having missed out on a crack at Fulham the last time Stephen Baxter's men faced top-flight English opposition.

Back in 2011 in the Europa League, Crusaders were paired with an impressive Fulham team who had reached the final of the competition the year before.

The Craven Cottage side were managed by Martin Jol eight years ago and included quality players such as Danny Murphy, Bobby Zamora, John Arne Riise and Damien Duff in their line-up. Recently retired Northern Ireland legend Aaron Hughes was also a key figure for the Londoners.

Fulham won the first leg at Seaview 3-1 before claiming a 7-1 aggregate success following a straightforward 4-0 victory on their home turf.

Caddell was coming into his own in the Crusaders team in 2011 but missed out on the high-profile clash due to a serious injury.

The thought of having the chance to play another Premier League club, and class acts such as Ruben Neves, Raul Jimenez and Joao Moutinho, will be driving him on when B36 Torshavn are in north Belfast on Thursday.

Caddell recalled: "I played a pre-season game on the Saturday before we were due to play Fulham and suffered a broken eye socket and cheekbone and was out for four months, so unfortunately I missed that tie.

"I was in hospital in A&E getting my operation and the boys were phoning me and sending messages through on the night they were playing at Craven Cottage.

"That sticks in my head because it was a massive moment in the club's history and I missed it. The Crues were playing at a Premier League club and I wasn't involved due to injury.

"It would mean a lot to me to get through this round and have the opportunity to experience it this season because I missed it first time around.

"The fact that Wolves are such a quality side with top players is incentive for us all, but our only focus right now has to be on B36 Torshavn.

"We have to concentrate on them and hopefully try and get the job done and then we can think about an incredible tie with Wolves.

"European football has always been important but, with the money Irish League clubs receive for playing in it and progressing, it has become even more vital."

It's a massive week for 31-year-old Caddell. Not only has he a crucial European clash to relish on Thursday, come Saturday he will be celebrating a well deserved testimonial at Seaview on Saturday against a Rangers XI.

The tough-tackling star has won every domestic trophy possible, including three league titles, and the Setanta Cup and is a huge favourite with the Crusaders supporters.

"The main thing that supporters want is hard work, dedication and loyalty and I've always tried to give that," said Caddell.

"For as long as I'm at Crusaders, I'll always give everything to the club."

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