Clarets winger Gudmundsson is no stranger to the Europa League

Johann Berg Gudmundsson celebrates with goalscorer Ashley Barnes following the striker's equaliser against Everton at Turf Moor.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson celebrates with goalscorer Ashley Barnes following the striker's equaliser against Everton at Turf Moor.

Clarets winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson is no stranger to playing European football.

The Icelandic internationals stint with AZ Alkmaar in the Eredivisie at the start of his career brought three UEFA Cup campaigns, with a couple of those resulting in quarter-final appearances.

The 27-year-old made his bow in the competition in September 2010, netting the opener in a 2-1 win over FC Sheriff at AFAS Stadion.

That season culminated in disappointment as the Dutch club failed to progress from a group which also included Dynamo Kiev and Bate Borisov.

However, better fortune was to follow. Having bypassed Jablonec and Aalesund in the qualification stages, Gertjan Verbeek's side qualified for the knockouts despite drawing five of their six group games.

There they saw off the challenge of Anderlecht and Udinese over two legs before Valencia proved too strong in the last eight.

"I played a few seasons back in Holland," he said. "We reached the quarter-finals twice so I've been around in that competition. It's a good competition.

"I don't think it's looked at as the greatest competition in England because it's tough, you're playing Thursday and Sunday.

"The demand on the Premier League is so tough that it can take a bit out of you. There are pros and cons about it."

Gudmundsson's last season in Holland sprung another voyage in the competition as the former Charlton Athletic man scored three times in 11 games.

The two-time top tier champions bypassed Atromitos, Maccabi Haifa, PAOK Salonika, FC Shakhter Karagandy, Slovan Liberec and FC Anzhi Makhachkala before losing out to Benfica in the quarter-final.

"I enjoyed it when I was back in Holland; it was a fantastic learning experience," said Gudmundsson.

"You go to different places, visit different countries, play against teams with different styles. It's a good experience and I'm definitely happy that I've done it.

"It is something that, as a footballer, you certainly want to play in. It's Europe and you want to test yourself against different teams."

Gudmundsson has made 26 appearances in the Europa League in total and he's eager to add to that with the Clarets.

Burnley made the quarter-finals of the European Cup in 1961, the year after becoming champions of England for a second time in the club's history, where they beat Stade Reims in a seven-goal two-legged thriller only to lose out 5-4 on aggregate against Hamburg, having held a 3-1 advantage from the first leg at Turf Moor.

With seventh place looking like it could be enough to qualify this time around, Gudmundsson said: "We just want to keep doing better. This is the first time we have got forty points this early so it’s about finding new challenges and getting even more points.

"We are all born winners. Footballers are all winners – we want to win every game so even with forty points we are not going to put the handbrake on and stop showing up at the weekend.

"It’s a real possibility, and for a club like Burnley going into the Europa League would be a fantastic achievement. We will try to get more strong results before the end of the season, and see what happens."

He added: "It's definitely something that the players will be looking at. The pressure isn't off us but it is a relief that we've got to that 40-point mark.

"We can enjoy the football that we're playing even more and hopefully get even better performances out of ourselves.

"For a club like Burnley to get in to it would be another historic moment and another great achievement in what we're building.

"It would be nice and hopefully we can do it. You never know because we have teams behind us who are playing good football as well. We need to be at the top of our game if we want to keep this place."