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Europa League excites Leverock

Exciting times: Danté Leverock, the Bermuda defender, is set to make his Europa League bow for Narva Trans next month

Danté Leverock, the Narva Trans defender, is excited about his team’s two-legged Europa League first-round qualifier next month.

Narva Trans, of Estonia, are away to Zeljeznicar Sarajevo for the first leg on July 12 before hosting their Bosnia and Herzegovina opponents in the second leg on July 19.

“We are playing a team from Bosnia, so that should be an experience in itself, playing outside of Estonia experiencing what European football is about,” Leverock said.

“It’s a real privilege to even have this opportunity to play in the Europa league and I’m very excited. I know only a handful of Bermudians have this competition on their resume, so I’m looking forward to the experience.”

Leverock is among a trio of Bermuda players who could feature in this summer’s Europa League qualifiers that includes forwards Zeiko Lewis and Nahki Wells.

Lewis’s Hafnarfjordur, of Iceland, will meet Finland’s Lahti during next month’s first-round qualifiers, while Wells’s Burnley will face Scottish Premiership runners-up Aberdeen in the second qualifying round of qualifiers, to take place between July 26 and August 2.

“We have I think three Bermudians playing in the Europa League at some stage with Zeiko, Nahki and I so that’s a positive for Bermudian football,” Leverock added.

Djair Parfitt-Williams was the previous local player to feature in the competition during a stint with English Premier League side West Ham United.

The forward, who now plays for Slovenian side NK Rudar Velenje, featured twice for West Ham in their Europa League qualifier against Lusitanos of Andorra two years ago. Seventeen teams automatically enter this season’s competition in the group stage, with a further 141 sides starting their campaigns in the preliminary and qualifying rounds.

There are 55 more joining from various phases of the Champions League, including eight third-placed group finishers entering the Europa League round of 32.

A country’s representation in the Uefa Europa League is determined by its Uefa coefficient ranking as of the start of the previous season, which is calculated over a five-year basis.

Next year’s Europa League final will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, on May 29.

La Liga’s Atlético Madrid beat French side Olympic Marseilles 3-0 in last season’s final to win the tournament for the third time in nine seasons.