Mike Williamson

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

From Plainmoor to Porto; from Adams Park to Atletico Madrid; from League Two to Lazio, Lyon and Leverkusen.

Newcastle United's qualification for the Europa League is another significant chapter in the story of Mike Williamson, who started out with Torquay United and Wycombe Wanderers in the lower reaches of English football.

The defender, who played every game in the second half of last season as the Magpies finished fifth in the Barclays Premier League, is now hoping to run out at some of the most famous grounds on the continent when Alan Pardew's side begin their European adventure next term.

"It's going to be fantastic and I can't wait," said the 28-year-old, who is preparing to report back for pre-season training next week after getting married this summer.

"It's going to be a great experience and something I've never came across before, so I'm looking forward to it."

A return to European competition for the first time in five years was achieved after a memorable 2011/12 campaign, with United's performances and results taking most pundits by surprise.

But expectations have now been raised for next term and Williamson told nufc.co.uk: "It's a tough one coming off the back of last season, but we're just looking to build.

"We've laid the foundations now and we've got a fantastic squad.

"Last season, the lads worked so hard and the performances and consistency were outstanding. We saw it every day on the training ground - something that the supporters don't see - and everyone made an incredible contribution.

"So we're just going to try and keep doing what we've been doing and try and improve in the areas that we need to."

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