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"They are special matches when you are facing an old club," said Pablo Hernández ahead of Swansea City AFC's meeting with Valencia CF in UEFA Europa League Group A.
A product of the Blanquinegros' youth academy, 28 year-old Hernández is set for an emotional reunion with his boyhood club when the Spanish side visit south-west Wales on matchday five. Miroslav Djukić's side are top of the section, a point clear of the 2013 English League Cup winners.
"It has just so happened that Valencia and Swansea have ended up in the same group," said the midfielder. "I am originally from a town which is only 60km away from Valencia, so it is a club I will always have in my heart."
Either side of a short spell at Getafe CF, where he reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup in 2008 under his current manager Michael Laudrup, Hernández spent the best part of a decade at Mestalla, before moving to Swansea in 2012.
Part of an eight-strong Spanish contingent at the club, he helped the Welsh side win their first ever major piece of silverware in his maiden season at the Swansea Stadium. However, a series of injuries so far this campaign have limited his playing time, with a hamstring strain ruling Hernández out of the trip to Valencia on matchday one.
"Yes, although I couldn't play Michael Laudrup allowed me to go with the team and be at the game," added Hernández. "It is a special city for me, and despite the fact that I couldn't play, I was able see my old team-mates and friends."
Having returned to training from another period on the sidelines last week, Hernández could be in line to make his first appearance in this season's group stage on matchday five, where victory will guarantee Swansea a place in the round of 32.
With Valencia safely into the round of 32 ahead of the match, Hernández is already eyeing up another meeting with his former club. He concluded: "It is an important competition for us. We dream about going a long way, and hopefully, since I am from that region, maybe we can play against Valencia again in the final."
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