The former Porto coach, who won the trophy as part of a historic treble, admits he is confused as to why there is a lack of respect shown to the competition in England.Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas says that English clubs view playing in the UEFA Europa League as a punishment.
Spurs face Panathinaikos in Greece Thursday, and the former Porto boss, who won the competition while in Portugal, admitted his confusion at the competition's treatment in England.
"The profile of the competition is raised in other countries, but not England," Villas-Boas told reporters. "I don't understand it. I'm also not in a position to criticize other managers' approach to the competition. But ask my goalkeeping coach Tony Parks about when he won the UEFA Cup [the predecessor to the Europa League] with our club in 1984.
"When English clubs were later banned from Europe, it was every single club's ambition to play in European competitions. I respect the competition. I certainly think it is viewed as a punishment in England, and I cannot understand why. It is a traditional trophy."
Tottenham is expected to make some changes against Panathinaikos, with Hugo Lloris replacing Brad Friedel in goal, but Spurs will largely remain the same with Clint Dempsey Jan Verthongen, Sandro, Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe all expected to start.