José Fonte spoke of his immense pride at leading Southampton to victory in their UEFA Europa League third qualifying round clash with Vitesse.
After a 12-year absence from the competition, Saints returned to the European stage in style on Thursday night, sealing a 3-0 win thanks to goals from Graziano Pellè, Dušan Tadić and Shane Long.
Fonte, who got his first taste of European football for ten years, was honoured to lead Ronald Koeman’s men out of the tunnel in front of a sold-out St Mary’s.
“It was a special night,” Fonte told youtube.com/southamptonfc.
“It was a big honour to lead the team out and it was a good win.
“We have come a long way. Everyone knows we have come from League 1 and had some tough times. Now we find ourselves in Europe and with a win.
“It’s a moment everyone should be proud of, but there’s a long way to go and we’re aware of that,” he continued.
“We’re an ambitious club and ambitious group of players. We want to win and we want to be successful so we’ll try and push forward.
“The crowd were behind us like always, it was a special atmosphere. They were very loud and the away team made a good show as well.”
For Fonte, who last featured in the competition in 2005 for Vitória Setúbal, it was a night he wants to experience more often in the Saints shirt.
“It was great for me because it’s always been one of my goals to be back in Europe,” he explained.
“It took me a long time but I’m back here now and the most important thing is we got the win.
“It was a great day for everyone and especially me because I feel very proud to be the captain and lead this team. Hopefully there are many more games in Europe to come.”