Dundalk manager Filippo Giovagnoli admitted that he would love to come face to face with Jose Mourinho following his side's qualification for the Europa League group stages.
The League of Ireland champions enjoyed a 3-1 victory over Faroe Islands side KI Klaksvik at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday night, which places Dundalk in Friday’s UEFA draw for the Europa groupings.
A wealth of top European talent potentially awaits the County Louth side who could come up against sides like Celtic or Rangers, Benfica or Braga.
Arsenal, Tottenham, Napoli, Roma, AC Milan the list is endless as the Lilywhites will be drawn in a group of four and will play the European ties this side of the New Year.
"I would love to play against Jose Mourinho. He's an icon in soccer, just to meet him on the pitch would be great," beamed a smiling Giovagnoli after the game at the Dublin venue.
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"I am going to watch the draw with [assistant manager] Giuseppe [Rossi]. It’s unbelievable."
Truth be told, the Dundalk manager was not overly impressed with his side’s perfomance at the empty Lansdowne Road venue.
A performance lacking in quality against the part-time side from the Faroe Islands, it took Dundalk 33 minutes to break the deadlock, when Sean Murray headed his side into the lead. And a fortuitous second arrived just after the break when the visiting keeper dropped a clanger to allow Daniel Cleary to double the lead.
And just when Dundalk looked comfortable, the side appeared to switch off and had to endure a sustained spell of pressure that eventually led to a KI goal when Ole Erik Midtskogen fired home from 20 yards out in the 66th minute.
More and more the Faroes side pushed for an equaliser and only for some fine goalkeeping and glaring opportunities missed, the Lilywhites could easily have found their two-goal lead disappear.
Thankfully for the League of Ireland side, defence turned into attack in the 79th minute as substitute Daniel Kelly raced clear on the counter before calmly slotting home the decisive goal to calm the manager’s nerves.
"What is important tonight is the result. We have made history," said Giovagnoli.
"I’m happy. Not happy with the performance but I’m happy with the result.
"You can’t be happy as a coach with that performance. The feeling is unbelievable but I am just a little bit upset with the performance.
"Tonight, we were so nervous. We were feeling the game so much, and it’s normal. It was a final, such an important game.
"We thought about the result and didn’t stick with the plan. At 2-0 we stood back; you can’t do that. You can’t give that amount of the pitch to any team in the world."
The Dundalk manager is only just over a month in the job having taken over from Vinny Perth who departed after the club’s Champions League exit in August, however, he was quick to acknowlege the vast experience in the squad and he paid credit to those who stood up to the pressure when the going got tough in the second half.
"The experience of the players was really important. Gary Rogers, Brian Gartland were good when we were under pressure.
"We should have controlled the game, we were capable of doing it but we didn’t consolidate our style. At the end of the night we made history but now we will work, work, work."
While Dundalk’s immediate European adventure is secured - the Lilywhites will play at least six more games in this season’s Europa League – the club must improve their league form to ensure that they have another expedition to plan for next season.
After winning four of their first five games, Dundalk have since only managed to secure five points in their subsequent six league games since the return to play after the Covid-enforced break.
And Giovagnoli admitted that he is already looking ahead to Sunday’s game at home to Finn Harps as his side look to move from their current place of fifth in the table back towards the top and to European qualification.
"We have another seven [games] and they are all finals for us because to qualify for the Europa we might have to win them all, so my mind is already on Sunday.
The players, meanwhile, will get the day off tomorrow where they will find out who they will face in the Europa League
But then there are five league games to plan for before Dundalk will, once again, line out in the group stages of the Europa League, as they did in 2016, with the first game scheduled to take place on 22 October, which will be their seventh game in three weeks.