Motherwell manager Graham Alexander says earning Europa Conference League football with the Steelmen ranks as one of his career-best achievements.
A 2-1 win over Scottish Cup finalists Hearts on Wednesday – during club legend and assistant manager Keith Lasley’s final game at Fir Park – secured a top five Premiership finish at Fir Park.
Joe Efford netted early on but Josh Ginnelly levelled to provide a ‘Well setback.
But a buoyant home support roared Alexander’s men on and Ricki Lamie popped up with the winning goal after half-time.
It means that the Fir Park club are back in Europe for the first time since 2020 under Stephen Robinson. Results on Saturday will determine whether they go in at the second or third qualifying round.
If ‘Well remain in fourth, they’ll go in at the higher round. Dundee United are fifth and play Ross County while a trip to champions Celtic awaits the ML1 club on the final day.
Alexander said: “It’s a brilliant feeling to qualify for Europe. We’ve had to put the tin hats on since January because results hadn’t been great but we kept working away and got our reward.
“We have ours and no one can begrudge us this. We won enough points over the season, we spent 24 weeks in the top six and the lads have shown great courage to win the last two games.
“I’ve won a couple of promotions in the past but this is as good as them, without a doubt. I’m buzzing I’ve shared it with good people here.
“I know Europe is a big thing for us as it’s certainly not expected with the size of the clubs in this division.”
It could be Lamie’s last game at Fir Park as he has signed a pre-contract with Dundee. But the Dark Blues’ relegation to the Championship means there is a potential clause for that deal to be voided.
Alexander hopes he can entice the centre-back to stay in claret and amber.
When asked about the winning scorer, the 50-year-old said: “Are we hopeful on keeping Ricki? Yeah, hopeful is all we can be given the budget.
“We offered him another contract in the winter and he signed for another club. I understand when you are a family man. He’s been a real leader for us.
“We’ve spoken since it came to light about the clause if Dundee go down. We want to get these last games out of the way and sit down with him. If we can do it, great. Hopefully he’s seen we trust him.”