Katsouranis-inspired Heidelberg: We can do a Wimbledon on City

The arrival of Greek international captain Kostas Katsouranis has Heidelberg United believing they can replicate unfancied Wimbledon's stunning upset when they defeated Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup.   

The Victorian NPL side face off against cashed-up A-League club Melbourne City in the FFA Cup Quarter Final on Tuesday.

Katsouranis' one-game guest stint has breathed new life into the underdogs' campaign.

Melbourne has the world’s third largest Greek population and the club is expecting 10,000 fans to pack their Olympic Village home ground in a throwback to their NSL glory days.

Speaking to Four Four Two just before Katsouranis was to take part in his first training session with the club, Heidelberg coach George Katsakis said his club is in dreamland after the 35-year-old Greek legend arrived in Melbourne on Thursday.

“It’s remarkable to think what’s transpired over the last week has now become reality,” Katsakis said.

“People are coming to terms that he is actually coming to play for the yellow and black. The buzz around the club at the moment is just unbelievable.”

Before Katsouranis arrived in Australia the 116 capped Greek international told Greek media that he had no intention of continuing his playing career Down Under and that he would only be here to play one game. But he did add that he was still eager to keep playing football.

Katsakis leads training (photo by Graeme Furlong)

Katsakis said that the one-game deal would be revaluated if the Victorian NPL club was able to pull off an unlikely upset against their more fancied A-league opponents – something which the former Berger player believes is a distinct possibility.

“A lot of the boys are brimming in confidence - with us bringing him in it does give you every opportunity,” Katsakis said.

“However if you are going to be realistic you know you are playing full time professionals.

"No doubt we are semi-professional and no doubt we’ve seen plenty of things that happen in football. But we take a page out of Wimbledon’s book. They went to the FA Cup Final and beat Liverpool and if we take those things into consideration I think everybody is a chance.”

The last competitive game that Katsouranis played was for Atrimos in the Greek first division in June where the Greek World Cup Captain scored two goals in the Superleague Playoffs against Panathinaikos.

Heading into next week’s game Katsouranis will have only three training sessions with the Warriors but even though he may be not be at his peak Katsakis believes that the 2004 European Championships medal winner will still be able to play a full game.

“From a fitness perspective it’s definitely not the perfect scenario,” the coach said.

 “But what he brings to the table is obviously immense ability and a lot of experience.  He may not need that full fitness output to apply himself correctly which will see him go through the 90 minutes.

“But one thing is for sure is once you are a professional you are always a professional. If he is going to put his name to it then he’s got to make sure that he is prepared and that he wouldn’t come here underprepared.

“So the full reality or the truth is that once he is here he’ll definitely apply himself. There is no doubt about that. He’ll do whatever he can to make his name very worthy of who he is.”

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Con Stamocostas is an Australian football writer. Click here to see more of his work and check out the latest episode of his A-League Snobcast with co-host Rob Toddler.