Although guaranteed a place in the 2013-14 Europa League before the FA Cup final as a result of winning the semi-final, Latics still had work to do and everybody is now familiar with the story of Ben Watson and the achievement of Wigan Athletic in winning the FA Cup.
Now the cup-winning goal scorer and his team mates begin a new chapter in the history of the club as they head out to Belgium to take on Zulte Waregem in Wigan Athletic’s first ever Europa League game.
Watson said he’s delighted with the path ahead:
“It’s going to be some journey in this competition, not just geographically, but in terms of what it means to the club, the players and the fans.
“It’s the first time the club’s ever been in the competition and it’s something that everyone is excited for.
“We’ve been given this great chance to play in Europe and it doesn’t happen every season so we have to give it a good go.”
Watson has been with Latics since 2009 and added that he’s already been on a big journey with the club.
“It means a lot to me to be in the first European team for this club because I’ve been through a lot during my time here.
“I’ve been through almost everything when it comes to relegation, staying up and fighting against relegation and of course winning the FA Cup.
“The Europa League is a major European competition that lots of teams would do anything to be in, so we’re very proud to be playing our part.”
With fellow team mates such as Gary Caldwell and Shaun Maloney having acquired European experience in the past, Watson said he’s been told what to expect.
“It’s going to be a great thing to say that we’ve played in Europe; obviously Gary (Caldwell) and Shaun (Maloney) have already played in Europe and witnessed the atmosphere of those games, so they’ve told me what it’s like in the past.
“There is a buzz around the team though because it’s new to a lot of the lads.”
Watson was quick to ensure that Latics weren’t just in the competition for the experience and that the team are looking to progress through the group stage.
“We want to do ourselves justice and put in some good performances.
“The group we have been drawn into is one we feel we’ve got a good chance of getting through.
“They’re all going to be tough games but they’re games that we feel we can win.
“We’ll make sure that we approach each match in the right manner to make sure we have a good chance of getting through the group.”