If Aston Villa achieve European football next season, it will not strictly be the first time defender Zat Knight has made an appearance in club colours on the pitch during a night of Uefa Cup drama and tension at Villa Park.

Nor will it be the first time the player has tasted Intertoto Cup action, should that be Villa's route, having played his part in the competition five seasons ago with Fulham.

Knight's first taste of European success came as a youngster — when he and his Villa-mad schoolfriends from Aston spilled onto the pitch to celebrate one of the proudest nights in the club's history.

A penalty from Phil King had just helped Villa see off Inter Milan after extra-time in the first round of the Uefa Cup in September 1994 and Knight, then 15, had raced onto the pitch to savour the moment with his Villa heroes.

He recalled: "I remember Denis Bergkamp was playing for Inter and that was an amazing feeling beating them.

"I remember us all getting on the pitch at the end. I know Doug Ellis is still around, so I hope he doesn't recognise me or he might fine me or even ban me now! But it was an amazing feeling and hopefully we can bring nights like that back to Villa Park again."

Knight, born and raised in Aston, a stone's throw from Villa Park, added: "To do as well as Villa did then, even though they were the underdogs and then to win through on penalties was incredible. I would love to play my part in Villa doing something like that again."

Knight, 27, is delighted to be back in Martin O'Neill's side and playing regularly again after a ten-game stint when he lost his place to Curtis Davies. He is now desperate to play his part in Villa's final two matches of the season, today against Wigan Athletic and against West Ham United next Sunday, so those heady European nights can return.

He said: "I see this as my way of repaying the fans by being a part of this army that is going forward and trying to get into Europe and create a bit of history for the club. Everton have some tough games now [Arsenal today and Middlesbrough next Sunday] but hopefully the teams they play can do us a favour.

"But we also need to do ourselves a favour as we have two big games against Wigan and West Ham. Wigan are still fighting relegation and it could go right to the wire."

Knight, who joined Villa from Fulham last summer, added: "When I was at Fulham, we got through to the final of the Intertoto Cup in 2002-3 and won it. We then went through to the third round of the Uefa Cup, which was a big thing for the history of Fulham because they had never got into Europe before. Now I have had a taste of it before, I want to do Europe again on a bigger stage now and with my new club. Rangers have made it into the Uefa Cup Final and if they can do it, then I don't see why Villa can't."

For Knight the fact that just two games remain is a nuisance, as he has picked up his momentum and finally won over the Villa faithful. He said: "I am enjoying playing regularly again.I was a regular at Fulham and used to playing week in, week out and so those ten weeks out, after I got a red card at Chelsea on Boxing Day and then Curtis (Davies) got back in, were very frustrating. I was pulling my hair out because I felt it wasn't even deserving of a red card anyway but I am back now and just want to keep going. As a team, we have gone from strength to strength and it is nice to be part of that.

"The manager believes in us, as he has from the beginning. Maybe a lot of people thought that we were out of the race for Europe after after we lost to Sunderland and Middlesbrough but we have stuck with it and we won our next three games and then came back against Everton last week. We have a big game now against Wigan. Let's see how it goes."