FOUR-NIL down from the home first leg, you would have thought Partizan Belgrade would have taken it easy on Rhyl as the Welsh Premier League champions headed to the Serbian capital 10 years ago.

Maybe they would have if the travelling Rhyl party had not rattled Partizan fans by heading to fierce rivals Red Star Belgrade for a tour of the ground 24 hours before their Champions League qualifier.

“We knew we were up against it heading there 4-0 down from the first leg,” recalled former Rhyl midfielder Gareth Owen.

“But we caused a bit of a stir by going on a tour of the Red Star Belgrade ground.

“They were calling it the Maracana of Northern Europe and it was a terrific stadium. But we didn’t know how fierce the rivalry was between Red Star and Partizan and their fans took it as an insult and certainly made their feelings known when we went out on the pitch.

“There were banners, fire-crackers and the most toilet rolls on a pitch I’ve ever seen.

“There must have only been 10,000 there but it was still a great atmosphere and the occasion was one I’ll remember, walking onto the pitch to the Champions League music.

“Our plan was to go there and try and keep a clean sheet for as long as we could. We lost 8-0!”

Playing in Europe with Rhyl wasn’t Owen’s first taste of football on continent, having played his part in Wrexham’s famous win in Lyngby in the European Cup Winners Cup in 1990.

“Chris Armstrong got the winner out in Denmark and then we got Manchester United in the next round,” recalled Owen.

“To play United at home and especially away at Old Trafford was amazing. We were a young team and it was a terrific experience.”

Owen, who hails from Connah’s Quay, hopes Nomads - 1-0 down from the first leg - can frustrate Partizan better than Rhyl did 10 years ago in tomorrow’s Europa League second round qualifier.

And Nomads skipper George Horan, who was in the same Rhyl team as Owen in Belgrade in 2009, echoed those thoughts.

“The plan for the first-leg was to stay in the tie,” said Horan.

“We wanted to make sure that there was something to play for heading into the second-leg by limiting the chances they got.

“They have got good players - a lad on-loan from Roma and a Serbia international in goal - so we knew we had to try and stifle them.”

Could this be Horan’s last European night should Nomads bow out of the competition in Belgrade tomorrow evening?

“I feel really fit,” said the 37-year-old. “It’s getting harder, but it love playing and I want to keep on playing for as long as possible.

“I’ve been saying it’s my last year for the last five years! When the legs have gone I know that it will be time to hang the boots up.”

Horan has had some memorable Europa League nights with Nomads, who have knocked out Stabaek and Kilmarnock in their four years in the competition, while Andy Morrison’s men have also beaten Helsinki.

“We’ve found a way of doing well in Europe,” said Horan. “We’ve beaten some good teams over the years and we want to keep beating good teams.”

One team Horan hasn’t beaten at three attempts is Partizan Belgrade.

Reflecting on that 12-0 aggregate thumping, Horan said: “I can’t remember too much about the games because I’ve tried to forget them!

“I remember the atmosphere in Serbia though because we were stitched up. We went on a tour of Red Star Belgrade’s ground and it ended up in all of the newspapers over there.

“From that moment we needed escorts to go wherever we wanted to go and then we ended the trip by getting hammered by Partizan, which wasn’t the best way to finish.

“I’m sure we won’t be going on a tour of Red Star this time.”