Wolves legend and UEFA Cup finalist Kenny Hibbitt is struggling to hide his pride in seeing his beloved club return to European football this season.
The club’s second highest appearance maker was back at Molineux on Saturday, joining in the celebrations as Wolves marked 130th years of playing at the famous ground, as one of 10 club heroes.
During his return to Wolverhampton, the European goalscorer spoke about his own experiences of playing on the continent as well as his hopes for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side as they take on Braga in the Europa League group stages on Thursday.
On playing in Europe with Wolves
“That was a dream come true for me, to play in major European competition was better than anything I could have expected.
“As a kid growing up in Bradford, it was a train journey to Blackpool or Morecambe for the day as a holiday, and here I was as a 19/20-year-old playing all around Europe. Flying to Turin, Hungary, going behind the Iron Curtain – we did all that, which was something I’d only read about in books, yet I was getting on the plane to go there to play football.
“Football gave me the opportunities to see Europe, and to be playing in Turin, against a Juventus side with World Cup winners in the team, was a remarkable period and I loved every moment of, getting to the final, only to lose out to an English team!”
On playing Spurs in the final
“If AC Milan would’ve beaten Spurs in their semi-final, we would’ve won the cup. We went to Juventus and because it was a two-legged affair, I remember John Charles telling us that if we got a result in the first leg in Turin, three or four of them wouldn’t come over to England, and they didn’t.
“We got a 0-0 draw out there and they had some players who didn’t like playing against English sides because we were strong, we were aggressive, we talked hard and we fought hard, and they didn’t like that.
“That’s why we all believed that if AC Milan would’ve beaten Tottenham in the other semi-final we would’ve won it. But Tottenham have always been a pain with us throughout my whole career.”
On Wolves’ return to European football
“Seeing Wolves back in Europe once again means everything to me. I’m very proud to be a former Wolves player.
“Let’s hope we can get to the final of the Europa League once again, and this time avoid Spurs!”
On Molineux 130 celebrations
“To be back at Molineux on Saturday to celebrate the 130th anniversary of the ground and being on the pitch; a fantastic pitch to play on in front of the great supporters who were there in their droves – over 30,000 there again – was fantastic.
“It was special times for me at Wolves and we’ve been through hell and back over the past 40 years, and the fans have supported us as much as they could in the 80s when things weren’t too good.
“Graham Turner did a fantastic job with the players he brought in to get us back into the Championship. This gave the foundations for the managers who followed a chance to get us back to the Premier League.
“Now, we’ve got money to spend on good players, we’ve got a great squad of players, a fantastic manager; the whole club is functioning to how we want to see it, and I’m proud to be a former player of this magnificent club, in this current situation – which is only going one way, and that’s up.”