Fonte: Southampton must use Koeman's European experience

Southampton Football Club

Jose Fonte says the Southampton manager's European Cup-winning exploits will be key to success next season in the Europa League.

While some of the bigger clubs in the Premier League annually mock one another about playing Thursday night football, Southampton centre-half Jose Fonte is eagerly anticipating the Europa League next season under the guidance of manager Ronald Koeman.

Fonte is confident he and the rest of Southampton's squad can use Koeman's experience of European football to make solid progress through continental challenges.

Southampton finished seventh in the Premier League this season, but qualified for Europe's secondary club competition after Arsenal - who have secured Champions League qualification - sailed past Aston Villa in the FA Cup final.

Koeman won the European Cup with PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona as a player and has managed in his native Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and now England.

"With the experience of the manager and the titles he's got in Europe, I hope he can pass on the experience that he has gained," Fonte told the club's official website.

"Hopefully he can give us the tips we need to go far in the competition.

"First of all we need to try and qualify for the group stages. If we do, there are some very exciting days ahead.

"I'm excited because I've experienced European football only twice and I saw how special it was. The whole atmosphere is special.

"It's something special for the players as well. I'm very happy and excited to be playing in Europe again.

"It's almost the pinnacle. It's not the same as the Champions League but it's the next step. For me personally it will be great to be back in European football."

Jose Fonte joined Southampton from Crystal Palace in 2010 after already gaining two years of experience in English football. After scoring seven league goals and helping the club achieve promotion, Fonte featured in the League One Team of the Year for the 2010-11 season. He was also voted Southampton Player of the Year, with now Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana coming second.

The 31-year-old has continued to build from that point and having established himself as a consistent Premier League performer, international recognition has come his way with Portugal.

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