Heineken ambassador Will Greenwood picks his all time Heineken Cup 15 from across the last 14 seasons.
Familiarity breeds contempt, and it is no different with rugby. As supporters and fans we forget the old days of dull championships and one-point wins.
Today we are spoilt consumers, able to choose between breathtaking competitions that span the globe. And Europe is the luckiest of all. Not least because we have the Heineken Cup.
Celebrating its 15th birthday, it has become the best club competition anywhere, period. It has brought heart-stopping rugby union crazily passionate crowds and the odd controversy. What more could you want? For players it is as close to international rugby as you can get, and it has given them another platform on which to shine and get noticed.
Over a decade and a half, the Heineken Cup has hosted many of the game's greatest names. You realise the quality on offer when I tell you that great players such as Martyn Williams, Shaun Sowerby, Diego Dominguez, and Fabien Galthié never managed to win the competition.
With so much talent out there, I couldn't resist the opportunity of playing Heineken Cup dream team and picking the best of the best.
I limited myself to players who have lifted the trophy. You will no doubt disagree with some of the selections, and question how I could leave out players such as Paul O'Connell, Cedric Heymans, and Neil Back.
What could I do? There was an embarrassment of riches. Long may it continue.
A pioneer with Leicester. And the cornerstone of Leicester's double in 2001 and 2002. It could have been an all Munster front row, but Rowntree in Parc des Princes in 2001 was brutal.
2. Jerry Flannery
Part of the Munster team who finally broke the biggest hard luck story in rugby. He carries like a centre, and while Keith Wood was close, Flannery's brand of lunacy wins it.
3. John Hayes
The big man has made 87 appearances in the front row and has more matches under his belt than any other player in the tournament. Tough, emotional, he gives his all. What more could you ask for?
4. Fabien Pelous
Paul O'Connell misses out to two giants of world rugby. Pelous has been getting his head pulped at Toulouse forever and he has been kind enough to let the backline steal all the glory.
Two winner's medals, two losing finalist's medals, finals generations apart. With Pelous and Johnson, you have two captains in the second row, two men who are made of granite but two men who at their best could have played half decently at inside centre.
Brive's Polish flanker who ran over Leicester in 1997. A one-man wrecking ball. Joe Worsley's tackling over the past 10 years put him in frame, and Rocky Elsom's one-man show last year was hard to deny.
7. David Wallace
Keeps out Neil Back. Involved in the miracles against Sale and Gloucester, ever-present and totally critical to Munster in 2006 and 2008.
Force of nature in 2004, leading his Wasps team to victory against Toulouse in a final they should never have won. Winning captain again in 2007. Always at his best under the cosh, loved victories on French soil.
That try in the 2004 final, when he scored like a thief in the night, is still good enough to get him in above some incredible scrum-halves. Toulouse's Clement Poitrenaud never saw him coming in one of the Heineken Cup's iconic moments.
10. Ronan O'Gara
The most consistent performer in Heineken Cup history. I enjoyed his composure when stealing away bonus points in tough groups.
Admittedly not prolific on the wing for Leicester in the Heineken Cup. But his overall contribution, ending with the try against Munster that led to Leicester being the only team to defend the title, was crucial. Picked his moments perfectly.
The Prince. Pat Howard should be in all Heineken Cup teams but how can you deny the Frenchman? The fulcrum of the Toulouse backline - the glider, floater, off-loader and target man.
Last season may have been his crowning glory in this tournament but he has graced the fields of Europe for a decade. He has consistently got Leinster through matches their forward mediocrity should have seen them lose. His performances on the road in France have shown stunning intensity and acceleration.
14. Emile Ntamack
There are so many Toulouse options, but if the best counter-attacking team in the northern hemisphere had to supply one member of the back three, who better than the arch finisher? His tries were always of such graceful, effortless style.
Tim Stimpson can feel hard done by, as can Jon Callard and Shaun Payne. But for me, this adopted Irishman who gave Ulster the unlikeliest of victories in 1999, kicking them to victory for the whole season and beating French sides four times, was always going to be tough to top.
This can only go to the Toulouse coach. A slightly neurotic, live-every-moment, kick-every-ball, make-every-tackle coach, who has continually turned out a team that inspired you to put your boots on and go out to play. Forget the other teams' stifling defences and eagerness for raw power, this man is a true romantic.
[courtesy of the Daily Telegraph, appeared 9 Oct 2009]