The 2024/25 season was out of this world for Kilmarnock as they secured Europa League football this summer with a fourth-place finish in the Premiership.

You could say that it’s a dream come true for one-time spaceman wannabe Joe Wright. The 29-year-old's sights are firmly set on some big European nights at Rugby Park this summer.

As a Leeds United man, the powerful centre-back has fond memories of watching his team in action on the continent at Elland Road. It’s those sorts of scenes that he and his Killie teammates will relish by the time July 25 comes around this summer, with the likes of Ajax, Braga and Trabzonspor all potential opponents in the second round of the Europa League.

“I remember watching the likes of Alan Smith, Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka, players like that during the not-so-much-glory days, but they were for me growing up,” Wright said. “No, I never went to any of the games – I was probably a bit young at the time, so I watched on TV.

“Afterwards, I just loved playing football so I was never available on a weekend to actually go watch them.

“I think I had that innocence of youth. When you’re young, you imagine yourself being an astronaut, footballer and a chef all at the same time.

“When you’re young it’s important to have those dreams. When you get older, they probably drift and it’s not something that you do expect. For us to achieve that (Europe) is brilliant.”

READ MORE: Kilmarnock season review after excellent 2023/24 campaign

“I think I got as far as putting a lid on my head,” he conceded when asked about his potential career as an astronaut. “I just learned about the planets and that was about it.

“I thought I was going to be a lion when I was four or five. My mum always used to joke about that at family meals that I thought I’d be a lion when I grew up.”

Wright joined Killie nearly two years ago when Derek McInnes gave him a much-needed chance in football after a year out of the game.

He’s put his long-term injury woes firmly behind him in Ayrshire, and this season highlights the rewards of believing in himself.

He said: “I remember the phone call with the gaffer and he said that the first season was all about survival and then after that we are looking to push on.

“It was something I was made aware of from the moment that I came into the club; that it has ambition and it wants to go places.

“Over the years you hear these things, but it’s one thing saying it, it’s another thing coming in every day and driving those standards which has been here. We’ve achieved that.

“The injury I had, it has never been done before, so there was that over whether I’d play again never mind will I play at a good level.

“For myself to have come back from that and to achieve what I have, is something I’m immensely proud of on a personal note but at the same time I’ve got to thank my manager, teammates and everyone associated with the club for helping me get there.

“I’ll be honest, even myself before I came up here I was thinking ‘Scottish football, it’s not the same level,’ but I think there’s so many players that have come up here and found out the hard way.

“Even just people like Neil Warnock in the press saying how poor he thought Scottish football was. Then he comes up here and lasts about three weeks! That just shows, even people with massive experience in the EFL come up here and they struggle.

“I actually have had friends that have spoken to me and asked me about the league. I can’t recommend it enough to them.”