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Gypsies captain reveals his enjoyment of European competition ahead of his club's Europa League first round qualifier against Thor Akureyri

Veteran Bohemians defender Owen Heary says that he enjoys playing in Europe, but admits that it will be a tough challenge for Bohemians, stressing that there "are no easy games".

Speaking to the Irish Sun ahead of his 12th European campaign, the 35-year-old revealed his enjoyment of continental competition.

“I love it," he said. "Every player should aspire to getting into Europe."

He added: "It’s not just a reward for a good season — it’s as near as you can get to international football. You’re representing your club, you’re representing your league. You’re playing against players from different countries and it’s totally different to what you’d be used to week-in, week-out.

“Every team you’ll face is a very good side and a real challenge for everyone. But that is what you want from these games.”

And the Gypsies captain admits that this season's campaign diverges from his past experiences, due to a lack of financial backing among the clubs in the league.

“It’s different this year because normally you’d like to have a team watched," said Heary. “We’re really going into the unknown and we don’t know what we will face. We just can’t afford to send someone over to watch them.

“We’ll find out what we can about them but we know it will be difficult and we’ve got a team with a lot of players who have never played in Europe before.

He added: “I remember going into my first game against Neuchatel Xamax (in 1999). I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect. The players here will need to learn fast.

“There are no easy games in Europe, they’ll probably keep the ball well and slow the pace down and then hit you fast. It will be a new experience for a lot of our players, but one they should enjoy," he said.

Nevertheless, the experienced defender had some words of advice to the his younger team mates, suggesting that they could earn themselves a move on the basis of their performances.

He said: “I’d say to them to go out and show what they can do because you never know who is watching."

Heary also stressed positive effect that a win could have for the Dublin club, acknowledging that the financial incentive was huge.

“Money is still tight and a win could really help the club," admitted the defender.

"If we win, it might mean there is more money for Aaron Callaghan to sign some of the lads to deals and build the club up again.”

Bohemians take on Icelandic club Thor Akureyri in the Europa League first round qualifiers on Thursday July 5 at Dalymount Park. Kick off 19:45 (IST).