Prince Buaben admits he thought finishing third was beyond Hearts at the start of the season.
The Edinburgh club are now preparing for Europa League qualifiers starting on June 30 after a stunning first season back in the Scottish Premiership.
“Any player would have taken that. Finishing third is a great achievement, especially having come up from the Championship,” said Buaben. “If I am being honest, I didn’t expect us to do this well.
“This is a good league with good players. So to do what we have done this season is very satisfying. I thought the top six would be our goal because you have good teams like St Johnstone, Motherwell have been doing well also.
“I just think we have worked well as a group. We don’t have individual players who just think about themselves. We have got a bunch of players who want to play for each other.”
Buaben’s only previous experience of Europe came six years ago with Dundee United, also in the Europa League qualifiers.
“I played for Dundee United against AEK Athens and that was a great experience. It was really something, you’re playing against good players who just want to pass the ball. You can only learn from it.
“I remember when we played them at home we got a bit nervous, which is natural because it’s a great feeling in these games.
“For Hearts, if you win that first tie then you can start thinking about going further.”