BLACKBURN, England (AFP) - Benni McCarthy believes he can return to the Champions League with Blackburn Rovers - and perhaps as early as next season.
The 30-year-old South Africa striker won European club football's greatest prize with Porto in 2004 under Jose Mourinho.
McCarthy, who joined Blackburn in 2006, has begun talks on extending his contract, which has two years to run, with the Ewood Park club.
And although Rovers are eight points behind Everton, who currently occupy fourth place in the Premier League and with it the final Champions League spot on offer to English clubs, McCarthy believes his side can overtake their north-west rivals.
"The club know that before I hang up my boots from playing football I want to play in the Champions League again," said McCarthy, speaking at the launch of the club's season ticket price freeze on Monday.
"The fact they are thinking Champions League football can be played here in the next few years will do for me and I can pledge my future here.
"A lot of players in the squad don't know what it is like to play in the Champions League: it is an amazing experience, and that is what I want the whole team to be feeling.
"People say these days that footballers are very glamorous but the Champions League is the type of glamour that you want.
"And Blackburn, a team from Lancashire can be as glamorous as we want to be. We certainly have some good looking players!"
With Liverpool and Aston Villa, as well as Everton, above them in the table it would appear Rovers would have to win all 10 of their remaining games and hope for slip-ups from their rivals, in order to qualify for next season's Champions League.
However, McCarthy refused to accept that it needed a miracle.
"There is a fourth place up for grabs - and that is what we want," said McCarthy.
There is a serious screw loose in our team if we are not looking towards fourth place.
"If we think we can just settle for the UEFA Cup, no way, it doesn't work like that. For me the way of thinking is far ahead and it is very possible.
"We are in good form at the moment and March is a very, very winnable month.
"We've only got Tottenham that is about the same level as us - even though we're still a better side than Tottenham - and Liverpool in a head-on situation. They want that place as much as we do, so it is all to play for.
"We are an optimistic team and we want to win things. I have enjoyed nearly all my career playing Champions League football and I miss it a lot. It is looking possible to achieve that with Blackburn now more than ever.
"If everything is agreed on, I will put pen to paper and get on with what I do best and that is play football."
Rovers are at home to relegation-threatened Fulham on Saturday.