Having had a taste of European football both as a supporter and as a player for Saints, Matt Targett wants to help the team back onto that stage sooner than later.
Left back Targett grew up watching the Southampton side that reached the FA Cup final in 2003 and Gordon Strachan’s team inspired the youngster who joined his boyhood club at the age of 8.
The current season is the 20 year-old’s second campaign as part of the first team squad he’s hoping for Saints to make a return to Europe a year on from qualifying with a seventh place finish in the Premier League.
“I think last season was a fantastic season and we know that the fans expect the same if not better, so we’ve got to give it our all in every game and hopefully get back into Europe,” he tells Saturday's edition of SAINTS.
“It will be a big test for the squad. We have a lot of games in a short period of time so it’s important that we recover right, get the right nutrition and keep everyone fit as I think that’s important for us.
“We can’t have too many injuries. We’ll take each game at a time though, because we know that each team brings a different threat with them, but we do our homework on the teams we play and we know the strengths and the weaknesses that we need to exploit.”
From a long line of achievements at Saints, playing in the first team is undoubtedly Targett’s proudest feat, and his plan now is to inspire the next generation of Southampton players and supporters.
“I had a season ticket when I was seven or eight and I used to sit in the Chapel stand with my dad,” he recalls.
“Strachan was the manager then and it was a good time for the club. We got to the FA Cup final in 2003 and I went to that at the Millennium Stadium. We lost 1-0 to Arsenal but it was a good experience, and one I’ll never forget.
“As a result I understand why fans get frustrated, but I like to think that we really do try our best on the pitch. Sometimes it might not work out but we do try our best.
“I used to look up to the likes of Wayne Bridge, and I hope the kids that are looking up to me will hopefully see me as a good role model for them.”
Read the full interview with Targett inside the Sunderland edition of SAINTS which you can buy now from saintsmatchdaymagazine.co.uk or at the stadium on Saturday, priced at £4.
The magazine also features FOUR exclusive vouchers which you can redeem at the game and at other home matches this season!