Linfield FC boss David Jeffrey hailed his players as "history makers" as the club celebrated a first European away win in 47 years on Wednesday evening.
Goals from debutant Andy Waterworth and Philip Lowry secured a 2-0 first leg victory over ÍF Fuglafjørdur of the Faroe Islands in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League in Torshavn. The Northern Irish side last celebrated a win on their travels in UEFA competition in October 1966, when they defeated Vålerenga IF of Norway 4-1 in the European Champion Clubs' Cup.
Sammy Pavis, Philip Scott, Tommy Shields and Arthur Thomas were on the scoresheet for the Blues, who reached the quarter-finals of that year's competition before losing 3-2 on aggregate to PFC CSKA Sofia. This week's victory in Torshavn is only the second time Linfield have won away from home in Europe dating back to their first foray into continental competition in 1959.
"The historical significance of our win in the Faroes wasn't lost on me or the players," said the 50-year-old Jeffrey. "I was four years of age in 1966, so it has been a long time coming. It is a very special landmark for the club. Andy Conn, one of our club officials, reminded me prior to the game that it was 47 years since we last recorded an away win in Europe. That was actually one of the last things I said to the players as they left the changing room. I told them: 'You can be history makers tonight.'"
Linfield's manager since 1997, Jeffrey spent ten years as a defender with the club between 1982 and 1992, and scored a vital away goal in a 1-1 draw at Shamrock Rovers FC which saw the Blues progress to the second round of the 1984/85 European Cup on away goals.
"I know from personal experience how tough it was playing away from home in Europe," he said. "Yes, I enjoyed some memorable results like in 1984 down at Shamrock Rovers, but I never got to experience an away win as a player. I am delighted to now experience it as a manager. It's a fantastic achievement. ÍF are in the middle of their domestic campaign, while we are still in pre-season, so we knew it would be tough."
Jeffrey included four summer arrivals in his starting lineup – goalkeeper Johnny Tuffey, defender Matthew Clarke, midfielder James Knowles and striker Waterworth, who joined the club from derby rivals Glentoran FC in May.
"We had a number of new signings in the team and we are still a work in progress, but I was delighted with the display," said Jeffrey. "I'm delighted for Andy and it's great to see him get off the mark for us. It was also nice to see Johnny Tuffey keep a clean sheet, but overall it was a fabulous team performance."
The return leg is at Windsor Park, Belfast, on Wednesday 10 July.