Emmerson Boyce speaks about the honour of leading Latics out for their first home Europa League game.
Last night’s 3-1 victory in the UEFA Europa League against NK Maribor was yet another landmark moment created by Wigan Athletic in 2013.
Over the past seven seasons last night’s captain Emmerson Boyce has been part of plenty of historic moments with the club and he explained that he’s living the dream with Latics.
“It was a great experience and a historic moment which we capped off with a win, so all-in-all it was a good evening.
“We’ve lived and are still living the dream at this club, we all know that anything is possible.”
On the moment he walked out from the tunnel Boyce added:
“It was a great experience to lead the team out in the first European game in Bruges, but to come back and lead out the team in front of our own fans and get the win is a great storyline and something that we’ll always talk about.
“To win our first game in Europe at home is a fantastic feeling and to lead the team out with the fans cheering, my family watching and the eyes of the continent on us is a great experience.
“When you walk out of the tunnel with the Europa League anthem playing and the fans on their feet it’s a real hair on the back of the neck moment.
“It’s the sort of thing I’ve seen on TV and now we’re living those moments, we’ve got two more at least to go at home and we’re going to enjoy every minute of it.”
Latics now sit second in group D with four points from the opening two games and Boyce believes it’s given the team a great chance to progress.
“The next stage of our dream is to qualify for the knockout round of the Europa League and to win promotion to the Premier League.
“What a great achievement it would be for the club if we can do both of those things.
“We’ve got many more things to achieve ahead of us and hopefully we’re looking at more big moments this season.”
Focussing on the game, the 34-year-old praised the first half performance and the way that the team saw out the three points.
“We had a great start to the game and the first half was a brilliant team performance, with probably the best football we’ve played all season.
“It was disappointing that we took our foot of the gas in the second half, but it’s all about learning about this new experience in Europe.
“Maribor punished us for that by getting a goal back, but we held on and added a third which a couple of years ago we probably wouldn’t have done.
“The game showed that we can grind out results in the second half of games, which is something we’re going to need for the rest of the season.”
With Latics’ sixth game in 18 days coming up on Sunday against Blackburn Rovers, Boyce recognised that squad rotation will be as crucial as ever.
“Rotating the squad has to work and I think it showed tonight that it is, that’s why the manager built such a big squad.
“Obviously everyone wants to play every game, but we all have to understand that it’s not a reality because of the amount of fixtures we’ve got.
“Frustrating as it can be for us, the manager knows best and he’s doing what’s right for the team.”
On the test of Blackburn Boyce added:
“We’ve had a great result and we go forward into Sunday’s game with real confidence.
“Everybody knows they have to perform to beat a side like Blackburn, so we’re looking to impress on Sunday and claim the points that we need to reach our goal.
“It’s a busy period, but it’s something that we’re all enjoying and we’re looking forward to that next challenge ahead of us.”
Continue to be a part of the Wigan Athletic experience with Sunday’s game against Blackburn Rovers at the DW Stadium.
Tickets are still on sale, but get yours early to beat any potential queues. [Click here] for more information.