There is a daily reminder of Aston Villa’s proud European history when Unai Emery strides towards his office.

Locked inside a glass cabinet, the European Cup trophy from 1982 continues to inspire the new generation at Villa’s training ground and Emery is acutely aware of the club’s past.

Villa are finally returning to this stage for the first time in 13 years, albeit in the Conference League, and in Emery they have an undisputed master when the passports are rolled out.

The Basque coach has already secured four Europa League titles [three with Sevilla and one with Villarreal] and this will be the 16th successive season he will be operating in a knockout tournament as a manager.

Preparations for Wednesday’s play-off first leg at Hibernian have been meticulously planned, and Emery has fully grasped the importance of the competition.

“Everyday when I go to the training ground there is the ‘82 European Cup (picture). It’s good to have that memory,” Emery said.

“This is the history of Aston Villa and it is amazing, We want to write a new history now in our own way and hopefully we can enjoy it and feel something important here.

“Playing in Europe always gave me a lot as a coach. Now with Villa I want to share my experiences and my competitive way that I did before, and I want to do it here.

“We have to enjoy it but also be demanding in the possibility to do something.

“We play Hibernian and have to play two matches to try and get to the group stage and that is the objective.

“We have our experiences, the players and me as a coach. Playing in Europe always gave me a lot as a coach. In football, I’m so grateful for the possibility to play in Europe like I have.

“That is the message to the players and to the supporters. I want to focus on the two matches with Hibernian and enjoy it.”

Emery’s impact at Villa has been significant, with their remarkable second half to the season raising expectations through the roof.

After succeeding Steven Gerrard in November, the former Arsenal manager guided Villa to 15 league wins in 24 matches, finishing seventh to guarantee European qualification.

This competition, now in its third year, represents another opportunity for progress and Villa will hope to repeat West Ham’s success from last season with David Moyes lifting the trophy amid joyous scenes in Prague.

Villa’s secret weapon for the trip to Edinburgh will be John McGinn, the Scotland international and a former Hibernian player.

McGinn played a key role in Hibs’s win over Rangers in the 2016 Scottish Cup final, the club’s first trophy in 114 years, with fans insisting he was better than Zinedine Zidane.

It is worth remembering that the inspirational midfielder cost Villa just £2.5 million when he moved from Hibs in August 2018, at a time when Steve Bruce was struggling for lift-off in the Championship.

At a time when transfer fees are reaching previously uncharted levels of extravagance, the deal remains an incredible bargain.

“Now I think he would cost more than before,” says Emery. “His career is getting better and better.

“It is good because John McGinn is always positive in the dressing room, always happy, always demanding, always committed with his team-mates.

“He deserves it because he is always trying to do his best. He is an example to his team-mates.

Villa’s new signing Nicolo Zaniol , who won the inaugural Europa Conference League with Roma in 2022, is poised to play some part at Easter Road after joining on loan from Galatasaray last week.