Swansea City star Leon Britton: Europa League will save us from EastEnders
LEON Britton is relishing the prospect of European drama at Swansea City next season — because it will save him from the soaps.
Londoner Britton prefers watching the Europa League to EastEnders on a Thursday night.
And he will not be worrying what's going on in Albert Square when he jets out to the continent with Swansea next term — and makes an appearance on another channel.
"I stick the Europa League on when the British teams are playing because there is nothing else on a Thursday night apart from EastEnders," Britton says.
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"I watch most football on the TV whether it's League Two or the Champions League — not that my missus is happy about that!
"But it will be great exposure for the club next season. Every Thursday when the competition is on we could be on the television.
"I think everyone would rather be doing that than sitting indoors watching boring soaps and just twiddling their thumbs.
"I'm sure all the fans and players would much rather be travelling abroad to Spain, Portugal, France or wherever it may be to go and play against top players and top teams."
Swansea, whose Europa adventure will start at some point in August, are stepping into the unknown to some extent given that the club have not competed in Europe for 22 years.
But there are a host of players in Michael Laudrup's squad who have played European football at some of their former clubs.
The likes of Michel Vorm, Ki Sung-Yueng, Pablo Hernandez and Jonathan de Guzman have all tasted cross-border competition.
And though Swansea will not be expected to make a mark next season, Britton reckons they should aim high.
"Fulham are an established Premier League club, but they showed what can be done when they got to the final a few years ago — and Middlesbrough did the same," he points out.
"Obviously, it will test the squad with games on Thursday and Sunday, but why not have a go at it?
"It will be a great adventure for everyone.
"When I was at West Ham they were in the Intertoto Cup. I was in the youth team at the time, but I remember it was great for the club.
"For clubs like Swansea, West Ham, Fulham or Middlesbrough who don't have that chance every year, you can see that everyone loves it.
"To see big teams coming to your stadium and travelling abroad as well will be a great experience."
Britton savoured Swansea's Capital One Cup triumph a little more than most in Laudrup's squad, for he was the only player involved at Wembley who played a part in the club-defining win over Hull ten years ago.
A routine post-match drug test took some of the gloss off the Bradford triumph for Britton since cruelly, he was forced to miss out on celebrations in the dressing room.
But as the dust settles on Swansea's success, Britton has had the chance to reflect on what has been achieved.
"There are a lot of top players who have not won a major honour in their career," the 30-year-old says.
"At the beginning of a competition you're not sure how seriously the club are going to take it, and since I have been at Swansea we haven't got very far in cup competitions.
"But when the gaffer came in, one of the first things he said was, 'I want to do well in the cups'.
"And once you get through a couple of rounds and then beat Liverpool away, you are in the quarter-finals at home against Middlesbrough, a Championship team.
"Anything can happen then, and to go on and win a major honour in domestic football is something some players don't ever get to do. It's great."
The biggest problem now facing Swansea is how they go about trying to build on the Bradford victory.
A club who were bottom of the Football League pile when Britton first signed on loan from West Ham are now the holders of a major trophy and sit pretty in the top half of the Premier League.
And there are now question marks about how much further they can go.
"The next thing for us is Europe so we've got that to look forward to," Britton adds.
"Things just seem to be getting better and better. I don't know how far it can keep going, but you have to enjoy the ride while we're doing it.
"Obviously, you do wonder how it keeps happening and how we keep improving and doing well.
"And of course there will be a time where we can't keep improving because we'll be the champions of the Premier League!
"We have to be realistic. We just have to make sure we establish ourselves in the Premier League and be there for the next three, four or five years."
With 37 points on the board and 11 league games to come, Swansea look like shoo-ins to extend their top-flight stint into a third campaign.
But Britton insists Laudrup's players are not about to ease off as they prepare for a return to league action against Newcastle United on Saturday.
"We enjoyed a couple of days of celebrations, but we were back in training yesterday and we're not going to get too above ourselves," he says.
"We still have 11 games left and we won't lose focus — we want to finish as high as we can in the table.
"That's got to be our aim. Our players are too professional to think that the season is over and we can get the flip-flops on and head down to the beach."
Of course, that chance may come next season if the Europa League draw is kind.