Published: March 2009
Like a fairytale…The autobiography of a legendary figure in Greek football
and other related inspiring stories...
From the obscure village of Petrohori, in Greece’s extreme northeast province of Thrace, to world-class London and the majestic pitch of Wembley; from nagging doubts about his playing skills to universal recognition, titles and a vindication of the human spirit…
The provincial “loser” of 1968 is transformed into the tall striker feared by opposing defenders in Greece and international play. The life and career of Antonis Antoniadis, Panathinaikos Athens’ and Greek football’s supreme striker, seems like something taken out of a sports fairytale.
In tandem with “shorty” Mimis Domazos –Panathinaikos’ brilliant on-field “general”– Antoniadis, nicknamed “slim” or “Tall One”, ranks as one of the best-known figures in Greek sports history. Antoniadis retells his story in the first person and unveils much of his rich personal experiences, bringing to life memories of Panathinaikos’ celebrated Leoforos Alexandras homefield as well as memories from the clashes with rivals Olympiakos Piraeus, AEK Athens and PAOK Thessaloniki; the voice of Yiannis Diakoyiannis, the doyen of Greek sportscasters; legendary coach Ferenc Puskas; notable co-players and opponents, and the crowded fields in an era of innocence that appears ever so distant from today’s reality.
Antoniadis remembers his “heroic” years in Greece’s rough second division and his mentor Nikos Pangalos, as well as Everton’s Goodison Park and the “magical” afternoons at Leoforos Alexandras; the football hangouts in the 1960s and 1970s; B&W television; the game’s stars; Athens’ musical and theatrical scene and numerous stories about his life in a bustling Athens that was never able to “seduce” him.
Antoniadis also conveys his own personal and distinct message against hooliganism, commercialization of the game and the lack of credibility that plagues Greek football. His personal experience and his 30 years as the head of the professional football players’ association in Greece (PSAP) are a unique legacy for Greek footballers’ better future.