Hughes wants to build a Euro legacy

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Hibs boss John Hughes today revealed his burning desire to see the Easter Road club's name take centre stage in Europe once again.

Having become Britain's pioneers in Europe, the Edinburgh outfit have played host to some of the biggest names on the continent, Hibs taking on the best on virtually an annual basis throughout the 60s and 70s.

In recent seasons, however, that rush of big-name visitors has been reduced to a mere trickle, their last involvement in the UEFA Cup, now rebranded the Europa League, coming five years ago when Ukrainian side Dnipro bundled them out.

Now, however, Hughes hopes the first leg of their third round qualifying tie against Slovenian side Maribor will signal a new era of European glory.

He said: "I see the big picture of what I want for Hibs. Whether I get the time to take the club to where I want to go I don't know as in football management things turn over so quickly.

But part of that picture is playing in Europe every year and eventually having a right good run at it, making your name known with a style of football which is maybe different to other clubs.

"It's going to take us a while to get there, but I hope the fans understand what we are trying to do. I heard one shout the other night 'get into them' but how can you do that when the opposition are moving you about, keeping the ball and moving it.

"But then you hear NEC Nijmegen say we play like a Dutch team, that we played a different style of football to that they expected from a Scottish side. I speak to Eddie Turnbull and he tells me how at the end of a season Hibs used to come over to Europe, play against all the big teams, taking them on, beating them and making a name for the club all over the place. That's what we want to do, even coming over here to Holland, jumping about, making contacts and starting to get the name put out and about."

Hughes, however, conceded Hibs face a tough task in Slovenia, his assistant Brian Rice having taken in Maribor's 2-0 win over Videoton to clinch their second round qualifying tie 3-1 on aggregate.

Rice will remain in Slovenia to watch their Euro rivals, 5-0 winners in their opening League match, in domestic competition on Sunday as they play Rudar Velenje but he's confessed to being impressed by his initial look at them.

Hughes said: "Brian said they are a very good side from midfield to front and that we will have to be at our best over the two legs to make sure we progress to the next round.

"We managed to get an on-line link to the game here in Holland and put it on the big screen for the boys to have a wee look. They've already shown they can score goals, their link-up play is good."

For their part, Maribor are expected to have a representative at Hibs' final match of their Dutch tour, against Vitesse Arnhem in Driel today as they similarly try to build up a dossier on the Easter Road club.

But Hughes insisted their spy could well depart less than fully informed, hinting the team he fields today could well bear little resemblence to the one which takes to the field in the Stadion Ljudski in five days' time.

He said: "We've worked very hard to make sure our planning for pre-season has been meticulous with Europe in mind. We could have gone for lesser opposition but we have had tough games against European opposition, going to away from home, travelling to strange surroundings which, we hope, will stand us in good stead."

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