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Diesel was speaking as the trailer for the latest instalment of the long-running Fast and Furious saga was released.
Walker died in November 2013 whilst filming the seventh film in the franchise, but now Cena has taken up a role as Diesel's younger brother, an assassin called Jakob, and the Chronicles of Riddick star believes it was quite literally a match made in heaven.
Speaking to the press conference ahead of the trailer drop, Diesel said: "Years before we actually started casting, Justin [Lin] and I were playing with this concept.
"All of us had brothers, and that interesting dynamic of what your brotherly love is and how complex it can be at times makes for great storytelling.
"I remember once we started getting closer to production, Justin and I were talking about how harrowing it would be to actually have to cast a new Toretto... there's so many different directions you can go."
"I remember John Cena coming into this Dom shrine that I had where I would kind of go and meditate and train and start getting into that Dom state of mind.
"I remember him coming in, and - call this crazy - I remember feeling as though Pablo, Paul Walker, had sent him in.
"I remember talking to Justin that night and saying my gut and heart feels like this is meant to be."
For his part, Cena understood the responsibility that he was accepting when he took the role, particular the Toretto family name.
Cena explained: "I certainly didn't overlook the responsibility of the opportunity...
"I get to reap the rewards of this family who has supported the foundation and built the structure of a global-delivering blockbuster, and I get invited into the ninth instalment to share the last name Toretto, to be Dom's greatest adversary of all time.
"That is not lost."
"I was grateful enough to develop a relationship with Vin and Vin was gracious enough to give me a chance.
"I forever thank him, I always do for betting on me, I remember telling him a long time ago I wouldn't let him down.
"I love the body of work that's been established and it's an honour... it's memories I'll remember forever."
Fast and Furious 9 will be in cinemas on 25 June in the US and 8 July in the UK.
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