TOM Hateley says Motherwell should no longer be looked upon as the stepping stone it once was.
The right-back believes the Fir Park club’s regular participation in Europe means it isn’t just somewhere for players to make their name before moving to a ‘bigger’ club.
Hateley said: “If you ask any footballer they want to play at the highest level and European football is right up there.
“I have been fortunate to have played in a few European games and had some good experiences which help you grow, both as a player and a person.
“It’s great to be a part of, so if we can do well again then we can look forward to more European trips. It would be such a shame to have worked so hard throughout the season and not finish second.
“My personal highlight was scoring a free-kick in Odense and we probably should have qualified for the Europa League proper, and we’ve played in the national stadium in Athens, and although it was the hottest game of my life it’s great to be at these big stadiums.”
’Well have a number of big names out of contract this summer, including Hateley himself, but he believes the lure of Europe may avoid the current team being broken up.
Hateley said: “Obviously getting into Europe is massive for the finances of Motherwell and so many clubs, and as a I say you want to play at the highest level possible and from a club point of view that is Europe.
“A few guys are out of contract and there is no better incentive for a player to want to stay then to play in these games and it could be that which makes the difference.
“Some people might see coming here as a stepping stone to playing games, but if we are getting into Europe every season then there are not many clubs where you will be doing that.
“Players have come and gone since I’ve been here and there aren’t many I can think of who would be playing European football now.”
‘Well got back in training this week ahead of Saturday’s visit to bottom side Dundee and Hately says it’s been no problem that manager Stuart McCall has been away on international duty and might even bring some dividends.
He said: “It used to be Kennny Black was gone with Scotland and the manager was here, but now it is role reversal and Kenny is a great coach.
“Training has been good and everyone has come back refreshed after a little break and ahead of an important stretch of games so it’s come at a good time for us.
“The manager is off gaining experience and perhaps can bring whatever he is learning into training with us as we focus on the last seven games.”
Meanwhile three of ‘Well’s young players, midfielder Stuart Carswell and strikers Bob McHugh and Craig Moore, have extended their contracts until the summer of 2015.
They follow in the footsteps of defenders Zaine Francis-Angol and Adam Cummins, both of whom have already committed their long-term future to the club.
Carswell said: “It’s a good achievement for any player to sign a contract at any club, particularly at Motherwell where young players are encouraged and promoted. I am very happy to sign and I hope some of my teammates do so too.
“I have managed to come through the Academy system at the club and have been lucky to be given a chance, and I want to repay people for that.
“I’ve played quite a fair bit this season, it’s something like seven starts and fourteen from the bench. My aim is to keep working hard and hopefully become a regular for the first-team.”