Eight years ago, Josh Navidi was a spectator as Cardiff Blues lifted the Challenge Cup in Marseille, following victory over a Toulon side that included Jonny Wilkinson, Sonny Bill Williams and Tana Umaga.
Having made his Cardiff Blues debut earlier in the season, the back row, who was part of the academy, was invited to watch his future team-mates in action.
Following Saturday’s win over Pau, it’s now Navidi’s turn to gear up for a European final, after his side secured their place in Bilbao, where they will take on Gloucester.
The back row was inspired by the class of 2010’s achievement, and he has fond memories of the atmosphere created by Cardiff Blues fans.
"I was in the academy in 2010, and a few of us went over to watch the final in Marseille and I had the privilege of being in the changing room after the game,” said Navidi.
“I saw how hard the boys worked then, I have an idea of what’s to come and what we need to do to get over the line. Hopefully we can get another one in the can.
“The number of fans that made the trip over to Marseille was phenomenal. The atmosphere out there was crazy, because you also had so many Toulon fans, who didn’t have to travel too far to get there.
“I’m not sure how many Cardiff Blues supporters were out there, but despite the number of Toulon supporters, they still made themselves heard, were loud and made sure they weren’t going to be drowned out.
“The atmosphere in the stadium and being able to be there and see it all has really stuck with me.
“I was young at the time, and had only made my senior debut earlier that season, it made me hungry to be involved in big occasions like that. Being in that environment and seeing how hard the boys worked to achieve that is something that has really inspired me throughout my career.
“I learnt a lot, because you had a lot of quality senior players in the squad that I could soak up information from. The likes of Martyn Williams, Robin Sowden Taylor, Xavier Rush, Maama Molitika, while Sam Warburton was working his way into a regular place in the team. It was great to be around those boys.
“I used to watch Maama playing for Bridgend Ravens when I was younger, and actually trained with him while he was there, so it was a special experience to be able to play and train alongside players you grew up admiring.”
Navidi was part of a huge back row effort, alongside Ellis Jenkins, Nick Williams and Olly Robinson, who dominated at the breakdown throughout the semi final win.
The back row admits the squad are excited for the final on May 11, but insists focus will now be on Saturday’s Judgement Day clash against Ospreys.
The Welsh international said: "We’ve been building towards this for about three years and it’s nice to reach that final in Bilbao. We’ve got a big week to jump back into the PRO14 and Judgement Day against Ospreys, and then we can look towards that game against Gloucester.
“It shows how big it is from the excitement after the game. The boys were over-the-moon.
“It’s a big honour for us to be in that final and hopefully we can do the job and get some silverware.
“The breakdown was a huge part of the game. We knew, going into the game, how strong boys like Steffon Armitage are over the ball, but we’ve got plenty of boys who can have big presence in that area as well.
“When you’ve got a lot of boys who enjoy to jackal on the field, it makes it hard for other teams. Almost every ruck you’ll have someone competing for the ball.
"It’s a big presence of our, it works and you saw in the semi final how important it was.”