MARK O’Hara grew up being regaled with stories about Alex McLeish’s exploits in European football with the great Aberdeen side of the 1980s.

Now he is hoping he can emulate his fellow Barrhead native’s success and enjoy some noteworthy results with Motherwell, who take on Hapoel Be’er Sheva in a one-off Europa League qualifier in Israel tonight, in continental competition.

The midfielder’s father lived next door to the Scotland centre half when he was a boy and remains friends with his younger brother to this day.

So O’Hara heard all about McLeish’s involvement in the European Cup Winners’ Cup and Super Cup triumphs over Real Madrid and Hamburg that Sir Alex Ferguson’s team recorded in 1983 when he was younger.

It is asking a lot of Stephen Robinson’s men, who will be doing well to triumph this evening and progress to the play-off, to emulate what that great Pittodrie side achieved.

But he admitted that what “Big Eck”, whose first job in management was at Motherwell, did in his long and trophy-laden playing career has shown him the level he can reach in the game if he applies himself.

“Alex was an inspiring character from Barrhead,” he said. “As a young player, did people point to him and what he has achieved and say: ‘Look what you can do, guys’? Yes, I think so.

“I’ve only met him once or twice. I’ve not talked to him about Gothenburg. But what he did at Aberdeen was great and he was such an important player. If I could do even half of that I would be happy.

“Barrie Mackay is from Barrhead and he was a year or two above me and I looked up to him. Lee Ashcroft at Dundee is also from Barrhead. You have to look up to and aspire to be like those kind of people from your areas.”

Beating Be’er Sheva in the Petah Tikva Stadium just outside Tel Aviv later today and progressing to the play-off game against Viktoria Plzen or SonderjyskE next week will certainly be a significant accomplishment.

However, O’Hara revealed that Motherwell are, after morale-boosting victories over Coleraine and Aberdeen away last week, feeling good about the fixture.

“I watched the Hapoel game against Celtic in the Champions League back in 2016 (Brendan Rodgers’ side won by a narrow 5-4 margin to qualify for the group stages),” he said.

“We’re under no illusions. If Celtic go out there and struggle it’s going to be a tricky tie for us. We’ve been sent individual reports. Watching the international game against Israel the other week showed they’re a very good standard. We’re expecting a very tough game.

“But that’s four wins in five so there’s a real feel good factor about the place and hopefully we can take it into the match.”

O’Hara added: “It’s a completely different experience, something personally I’ve never been used to. It’s going to be completely new surroundings so it’s very exciting. I’ve been to places like Belarus and Ukraine with the Scotland youth teams. It’s out of the norm.

“It’ll be the hottest I’ve played in before, I think it’s going to be in the 30s. But we’ve had a lot of games and we’re a very fit squad. We’re feeling refreshed and ready to go. We’ve put in the work.

“When I spoke to the manager in the summer I was definitely going to come here. But it’s a big attraction, being involved in European football. Everyone aspires to being involved in ties like this.”

The game against Hapoel will certainly be a far cry from some of those O’Hara played in during his time in the English lower leagues with Peterborough and Lincoln City.

“There are a few grounds down there where you’ll get 2 or 3,000 fans and it’s very basic so it’s night and day going to a big stadium like this, in the heat as well,” he said.

“Crawley was one stand with seats and it was very much, without being disrespectful, like a junior ground. It was proper old school and so going to a glamour of a European game in Israel is night and day compared to that.”

O’Hara buried the first penalty in the shoot-out triumph against Coleraine last Thursday night and netted an early spot kick in the 3-0 triumph over Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Sunday. He will have no qualms stepping forward again this evening.

“I’ve been spending time doing them after training the last few weeks ahead of the European games,” he said. “I’ve been working most games on it. It’s actually a new thing for me. But the manager has seen the work I have been putting in and has put his trust in me.”