Belfast Telegraph

Europa League run is more about history than money for Linfield: Stafford

Mark Stafford
Mark Stafford

By Steven Beacom

Europa League goal hero Mark Stafford insists that Linfield's players are more concerned with making history for the club rather than money ahead of tomorrow's monumental clash with Qarabag.

The Blues enter the second leg of the play-off in Azerbaijan leading 3-2 from a gripping first leg at Windsor Park and knowing that a draw will see them become the first Irish League team ever into the group stages of the competition.

It would also bring a staggering £4m in Uefa prize money to the club.

Asked if the huge financial sum on offer is spoken about by the players, defender Stafford, who scored against Qarabag in Belfast, said: "No, to us it's more about history because when you play for Linfield it's all you hear about and it's all you see when you read match programmes.

"When you go to functions, they always talk about the players who have been here before - Winkie Murphy, Noel Bailie, unbelievable players - I wouldn't lace their boots.

"It's nice that it's all about us now in that changing room - we want to write our own bit of history for Linfield."

Stafford adds that the positive attitude amongst the Linfield squad has driven the team on to reach new heights.

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He said: "We're very focused on our jobs. When we come into training we have to be on the pitch at five minutes to seven, but in this group there'd be 20 boys in at five minutes to six.

"That's the attitude we have. We pull the one way. You have to have a good group to get a result like we did in the first leg and hopefully that togetherness will stand us in good stead for the second leg in Azerbaijan."

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