AS Burnley prepare for Europe for the first time in over half a century, former Claret Brian Jensen insists they're in for a 'brilliant experience', having chalked up his first taste of European football last season.

When Jensen signed for Irish Premiership side Crusaders a year ago he was about to turn 42 and had never played in Europe and never won a league championship.

A year on the man who made 310 appearances in goal for Burnley during a memorable decade at Turf Moor has ticked both of those boxes in just one season, and he leaves Seaview with a tinge of disappointment that he won't be appearing in the Champions League next season.

While Jensen's former club were enjoying a season to remember in East Lancashire, claiming a highest league finish in over four decades and Europa League qualification, the Dane was imparting his years of wisdom and experience on his Crues teammates as they claimed the Premiership title and put up a fine show in the Europa League.

Burnley will begin their own Europa League campaign in the second qualifying round, but the Crusaders entered at the first possible stage, facing Latvian outfit FK Liepaja on June 29 and July 6.

While Jensen and his teammates had been back in pre-season training for just over a week, their opponents were midway through a domestic season that would see them finish second, and the former West Brom goalkeeper believes facing opponents who have an edge in fitness is something to be wary of in the early stages of the competition.

"It was brilliant, I loved the travelling," Jensen said of his European experience.

"The thing that stood out for me was that the league here was stopped while a lot of other leagues are ongoing, so we played a team that were 17 games into their season, and to do that well, we were very unfortunate."

Crusaders stormed into a 3-0 lead in the first leg at Seaview, with Jensen making his debut for the club, but the consolation scored by Art?rs Karašausks would prove to be crucial, although Jensen did make a fine late save to deny Marks Kurtiss late on and secure the 3-1 win.

In the return fixture the Northern Irish side looked set for a shock win as they held on to a 3-2 aggregate lead, but Karašausks scored a 94th minute penalty to hand the hosts a 2-0 win and qualification on away goals, breaking Crusaders hearts in the process.

"We conceded a goal in the dying seconds, there were 30 seconds left, it would have been a massive achievement to go through but to be that close was a big disappointment," Jensen remembers.

"At the end of the day we gave a really good account of ourselves, considering we’d only been training 10 days at the time it was a good achievement.

"In the first game we conceded the goal that eventually knocked us out, we shouldn’t have conceded it. But we could have been four of five up, rather than 3-0 at the time when they scored the goal.

"It was very unfortunate but that’s fitness for you, when you’ve only been training for 10 days and you’re playing a team of full-time professionals, the fitness is always going to lack a little bit and that is what cost us."

Jensen had been released by Mansfield Town at the end of the 2016/17 season, but he wasn't ready to hang up his gloves and an injury to Crusaders regular number one Sean O'Neill presented him with the chance to move across the Irish sea.

And although his one-year deal wasn't extended it was an experience Jensen won't forget in a hurry, with the season ending with a first league title of his career as Crusaders held off the challenge of Coleraine to win the league by two points.

"It was a good experience, to go out there at 42 and to be involved in my first league title, I’m really happy about it," he said.

"To have the opportunity to play Europa League football was a great experience too, unfortunately I didn’t get a new contract so I won’t be able to play in the Champions League unfortunately, which would have been a nice little tick to have on the CV.

"I thought the chance (to win a title) had gone, to get the opportunity, they were desperate for a goalkeeper like me with a lot of experience for the Europa League as well, that convinced me to go. I’m buzzing with it.

"It’s their third title in four years, they had a little blip last year, we were one of the favourites to win the title but it was a lot tougher than expected.

"A few teams came out of their shells and were better than expected."

Jensen remains unsure whether he will play on next season, but he's now back in Cheshire overseeing the South Cheshire Regional Talent Centre as well as holding camps and training sessions as part of his GK Icon school.

While he was enjoying a landmark campaign in Northern Ireland, his former club were doing similar at Turf Moor.

Jensen started every Premier League game for the Clarets in 2009/10, but is delighted to see where the club have progressed to under Dyche, with Burnley now a different beast to when Jensen and his teammates were told failure to win promotion via the play-offs in 2008/09 might have lead to financial catastrophe.

"Considering all the stuff that was happening while I was there, to do that well now is a massive achievement for the club," the former Turf Moor favourite said.

"I’m buzzing for them. Since 2009, when we were told that we could go into administration if we didn’t go up, to help keep the club afloat at the time and to see how much they’ve progressed since under Sean Dyche is incredible, I’m really, really happy for them.

"It’s a great club, a great community, everyone stands by each other. For the town itself and all the fans it’s a massive achievement what they are going through now.

"Unfortunately there’s going to be a bit of pressure next season after their success, but I’m pretty sure they can deal with it.

"If they can establish themselves in the Premier League for years to come, I wouldn’t be that surprised because I think they’ve got the tools to do it."

The goalkeeping ranks are also flourishing under Billy Mercer, a coach Jensen worked with at Turf Moor, with Nick Pope following Tom Heaton into the England squad under Mercer's tutelage.

"It’s brilliant for Billy Mercer as well, he’s a very good coach and I’m really pleased for him and pleased for the two goalkeepers," he said.