Heineken Cup hero Tim Stimpson says the 2001 Final was “as intense as any game” he played in his career as he prepares to join former team-mates for an anniversary dinner at the home of the Leicester Tigers.
Full-back Stimpson provided the last-minute conversion of Leon Lloyd’s try to finally push Tigers into a 34-30 lead in a titanic contest with Stade Francais in Paris on that afternoon 20 years ago and he still recalls the emotions of the day.
“I remember the intensity,” he says. “It was as intense as any game I played.
“I loved that game, it is one of the most important and one of the favourite games I played.”
With Stade fly-half Diego Dominguez in world-class kicking form, Stimpson knew the importance of his role in a game of such magnitude.
“I was acutely aware Dominguez had nailed his kicks and we were only two points clear after Leon’s try,” he recalls in describing that match-winning kick.
“I had in my mind that he’d made me kick better because I used him as a benchmark. I was thinking, ‘If he is going to kick them all, I cannot miss’.
“Even on the first kick of the game, you tell yourself this could be the points points that makes the difference in the end.
“To be honest, goalkickers are a strange breed. I love a chance to win a game, I don’t love losing games. There have been times in my career when the kicks not have not over. You just have to believe in yourself.”
There were heroes all over the pitch on that memorable day before the players could celebrate in style with the trophy.
“Austin’s break or Backy’s try, they were all examples of players realising it was not a day to let someone else win it,” Stimpson says. “It was a day for you to step up.”
Stimpson will be joined by other members of that historic team for a European Champions 20th Anniversary Dinner at Mattioli Woods Welford Road stadium on Wednesday, September 29 in conjunction with The Sporting Club and Switch The Play Foundation.
Tigers have also produced a 20th Anniversary publication featuring interviews with some of the men who made it possible including Stimpson, Lloyd, Ben Kay and captain Martin Johnson. Copies are available now, priced £5 at the Club Shop or online.