David Gray: ‘I’ll remember the goal celebrations for years’ – not the Scottish Cup but the Europa League as Hibs await draw for new Euro bid

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SKIPPER DAVID GRAY has spoken of the club’s excitement as Hibernian prepare for Wednesday’s Europa League draw.

Chief executive Leeann Dempster and head of football operations George Craig have travelled to Nyon to discover the Easter Road outfit’s opponents in next month’s first qualifying round.

Neil Lennon’s side are seeded and will face a trip to the Baltics, Iceland, Finland, the Faroe Islands, San Marino or Wales after UEFA divided the participating clubs into nine groups for the 11 am ballot.

Hibs are in ‘Group 9’ alongside Levadia Tallinn of Estonia, IBV of Iceland, KuPS Kuopio of Finland, Liepaja of Latvia, NSÍ Runavík of the Faroe Islands or the winners of the preliminary round clash between Tre Fiori of San Marino and Bala Town of Wales.

The capital outfit, who qualified by finishing fourth in the Premiership last season, will then be unseeded for the draw for the second qualifying round, which takes place two hours later.

That leaves them open to taking on the likes of Spanish giants Sevilla, Besiktas from Turkey, Germans RB Leipzig or Bordeaux of France.

Hibs were last in Europe two years ago when Lennon’s first competitive matches in charge turned out to be a two-legged encounter with Danish side Brondby.

After a 1-0 defeat at Easter Road, the Scots won 1-0 away from home before going out of the tournament in an agonising penalty shoot-out.

Gray, fresh from netting the historic winner in the Scottish Cup final triumph over Rangers, scored the aggregate equaliser in Denmark in 2016 and is relishing the prospect of another foray into Europe.

GREAT ACHIEVEMENT

The Hibees captain said: “The whole squad are looking forward to the draw.

“It was a great achievement in our first season back in the Premiership and this is the reward for our efforts.

“A few of us got a taste of it a couple of years ago against Brondby. They were a team of good pedigree but we ran them all the way and were really unlucky not to get through.

“The atmosphere created by the travelling support that night was excellent – I’ll remember the goal celebrations for years to come – and it would be great to get another trip like that.

“We’ll just need to make sure we’re not complacent going into the two games.

“We’ve been back at training this week and have a few friendlies before the European ties, so hopefully there’s a sharpness by the time the first game comes around.”

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