Oct 4 2012
Clint Dempsey hopes to make up for his Europa League heartbreak with Fulham by lifting the trophy with Tottenham.
Dempsey wrote himself in to Fulham folklore in March 2010 when he came off the bench at Craven Cottage and scored a delightful chip that sealed a shock comeback win over Juventus in the last 16 of the Europa League. The west London club then fell at the final hurdle, losing to Atletico Madrid in the final.
Dempsey, who moved to Tottenham on transfer deadline day, now hopes he can go one better with Spurs, who take on Panathinaikos on Thursday evening. He said: "As long as everyone is working hard and focused, you always have a chance. And with the quality we have, I can't see why we can't go all the way and win it."
Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas, who won the competition with Porto two seasons ago, has said he was baffled as to why the Europa League is not given more respect.
The competition is regarded in England as the Champions League's ugly sister, with those who take part in it regularly subjected to taunts of 'Thursday night, Channel Five' from opposition terraces during domestic games.
Former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp described participating in the tournament as a "punishment", but Dempsey thinks it deserves more recognition.
"The prestige is there," the United States forward added. "You get to play against some of best clubs in Europe. That's why we are all excited about the possibility of going on a run and doing something special."
Spurs were unfortunate to draw their Group J opener against Lazio last month, but they are big favourites to take all three points from Thursday evening's clash in the Greek capital.
Panathinaikos have won 20 Greek titles in their 104-year history, but they have found life tough of late, thanks mainly to several high-profile transfer flops and the recent economic crisis in Greece.
They are 12th in the Greek Super League after winning one of their opening five games and on Wednesday sacked their captain Kostas Katsouranis after he fell out with the club's president over disciplinary issues.