Fulham have nothing to fear says Murphy

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The Independent Football

Captain Danny Murphy firmly believes Fulham's "special" European adventure - which has taken them from a qualifying tie in Lithuania last July, through trips to Donetsk and Turin - can finish with one final stop in Hamburg next month.

The Cottagers take on the Germans in tomorrow night's Europa League semi-final second leg with the tie delicately poised following last week's goalless draw at the HSH Nordbank Arena, which is set to host the final of Europe's revamped second-tier competition on May 12.

Murphy featured in the game against FK Vetra and has played in nearly all of the 17 European ties this season.

The former Liverpool midfielder maintains Roy Hodgson's men have what it takes to go the distance.

"Sometimes it is easier to judge the achievements of a club after the event, so maybe when the season is over we will look back and see how well we have done, but the players are becoming a lot more aware that this is a special adventure," the 33-year-old said.

"Of course what would make it even more special would be getting to the final, which we know is going to be difficult.

"But to overcome the challenges we have faced in terms of the quality of the teams we have faced, injuries, suspensions, it is hard to put into words what we have achieved.

"Certainly it has been a wonderful effort so far and it is not over.

"We are playing at Craven Cottage where we have beaten some of the best teams in Europe, so we have got nothing to fear."

Murphy added: "It has been especially pleasing because the squad has been utilised well and everyone has had a taste of it.

"We have been to some fantastic places, starting in July in Vetra on a kind of non-league ground, to places like Shakhtar and Hamburg."

Murphy accepts what Fulham have achieved this season is different to the expectations faced by his former club Liverpool, who are also bidding to reach the Europa League final.

"With Liverpool, the expectation is always there, which we have seen for many years and even this year. " said Murphy, who left Anfield for Charlton in August 2004 having won both the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup during 2001.

"We are talking about reaching a final which would be one of the greatest achievements of our history, whereas at Liverpool they are talking about reaching the same final as a consolation. That puts it into perspective a little bit.

"There is no greater pleasure than winning trophies whether you are expected to or not.

"Winning trophies at Liverpool were some of the best memories of my life, but getting the opportunity to do it with Fulham is more satisfying because nobody gave us a chance.

"Hopefully we can go that one final hurdle because getting to the final would be a great reward for everyone involved."

Fulham have been transformed under Roy Hodgson, who came in to save the west-London club from relegation when appointed successor to Lawrie Sanchez in late December 2007.

Murphy paid tribute to the former Switzerland, Blackburn and Inter Milan boss.

"It is unbelievable," said the Fulham captain.

"If you talked about the transition from then to now in a make-believe situation, you would laugh about it.

"The transition has been so quick and the manager is the main reason."