Kelvin Davis says qualification for the Europa League is the natural next step for Southampton.
The club captain, who made his 300th appearance on the final day of the season at Manchester City, has played a huge part in the club’s progression from League 1 to Europe.
Davis, who will be starting his tenth season at Southampton when the Europa League gets under way in July, had only one word to describe his emotions.
“I think to sum it up in one word is proud. The feeling of finishing seventh and being in a European competition – the only word I can use is proud,” Davis told saintsfc.co.uk.
“I’m proud of my teammates, proud of the club and proud of what everyone has achieved.
“To be a club like Southampton and progress as we have done, to me it’s the natural next step to qualify for European competition.
“I think we’ve progressed year on year and for us to finish seventh in the Premier League ahead of so many fantastic football clubs to put ourselves in this position warranted the opportunity to play in Europe.
“We needed Arsenal to win the cup but at the same time that position of seventh is what has given us the opportunity.
“We’re very excited and looking forward to the prospect of playing in the Europa League next year. But we’ve still got a hurdle to come across (the third qualifying round) and that’s what we’ll be focusing on.”
There is no-one better placed to judge whether the club is ready for Europe, and Davis believes it’s important everyone heads into it ready for the challenge.
“I think it’s about going into the competition with your eyes open,” Davis added. “We know we’re still growing. We’ve got a group of players that want to keep improving.
“We won’t shy away from the challenge. We’re fortunate we’ve got a manager who has European football experience.”
Saints will join the competition at the third qualifying round stage, meaning their season will start on Thursday 30th July, but Davis says that won’t faze the squad.
“The lads will be more than happy to be in and be amongst it preparing for one of the biggest seasons in the club’s history.”