When the Heineken Champions Cup theme tune starts for another thrilling weekend of action, it takes Leon Lloyd back in time to when he was running in tries galore for Leicester Tigers in Europe’s elite club rugby tournament.
The 42-year-old notched 19 in 50 Heineken Cup games for the Tigers between October 1996 and January 2007, before playing three games in the competition for Gloucester Rugby in the 2007/08 season without scoring.
“What I do miss is when I hear that Heineken Cup music coming on, because it [the competition] played such a crucial part of my life,” the five-cap England back said, speaking exclusively on the Champions Rugby Show.
“When I hear that music in the background, I could be in a different room and it takes me back to a specific point in time.
A mix of superb emerging talent and top-class internationals, @LeicesterTigers had some squad in 2️⃣0️⃣0️⃣1️⃣ 🔥
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) May 19, 2020
“I don’t think I’m any different to the other guys who have experienced the highs and lows of playing in that tournament.
“That is the pinnacle of club rugby if you don’t get a chance to play international rugby. That’s as close as you’re going to get.
“I think that is the bit I miss the most – those big Champions Cup weekends, where memories are made and history is made. It is amazing.”
Lloyd duly made history in 2001, when he scored two tries in the final against Stade Français – the most in a Heineken Cup decider, a record he still holds with Sebastien Carrat, who registered his double for Brive in 1998, and Johnny Sexton, whose brace came in 2011 for Leinster Rugby.
The one Lloyd remembers most from the Parc des Princes thriller in Paris is the 79th-minute match-winner which earned Leicester a 34-30 victory and their first European title.
He recalled: “Austin [Healey] broke through and floated out an unbelievable pass which stretched me out and was right in front of me. Luckily, I managed to catch it and the rest was easy, as I popped it down in the corner.”