Greek football star Sotirios Kyrgiakos has arrived in Australia to lend his considerable profile to the Sydney Olympic cause.
The former international and Liverpool player has signed up for a two-game guest stint in a move he hopes will boost the local game.
Kyrgiakos will debut for Olympic against Blacktown Spartans on Sunday in round two of the NSW Premier League in a highly-anticipated precursor to Greek Independence Day celebrations two days later.
It’s a massive coup for the Sydney outfit and the first time the 34-year-old has played for a club outside Europe. And the centre back says he still holds fond memories of the fans he encountered during his last visit to Australia.
"When I met Sydney Olympic Technical Director Arthur Diles in Athens I was instantly excited by the opportunity to visit a country I briefly visited in 2006 when Greece played Australia in Melbourne,” Kyrgiakos said during a media briefing.
“Although just a friendly match I will never forget nearly 100,000 people at the stadium that night and the amount of support we had from the Greek Australians.
“When I was briefed on the great history of (Sydney Olympic) and the formation of the Pan-Hellenic Soccer Club in 1957 by Greek migrants, I was on board.
“Greeks in foreign countries have achieved so much.”
“I am aware of the great progress football is making in Australia, attracting star players like (Alessandro) Del Piero, (William) Gallas and (Emile) Heskey. I cannot wait to play this Sunday."
After a 15-year professional career in a string of high profile clubs including Liverpool, Glasgow Rangers, Sunderland, AEK Athens, Panathinaikos and Eintracht Frankfurt, Kyrgiakos isn’t ready to hang up the boots just yet.
His last contract was with Wolfsburg which ended in June 2013 and the veteran defender is keen to play on. The A-League isn’t out of the question but it is understood he is also open to opportunities in Asia and the Middle East.
Football NSW CEO Eddie Moore said it was a huge coup that a player of Kyrgiakos’s calibre – with 61 caps to his name – was lining up in the second tier comp.
“Congratulations to Sydney Olympic on being able to attract a world renowned player like Sotirios who has played for some of the biggest teams in England, Germany and Greece as well as representing his country at major football events such as the UEFA European Championships and of course the FIFA World Cup,” Moore said.
Sydney Olympic FC club president Chris Tsioulos added: “A lot of hard work has gone into making 2014 a season like no other for Sydney Olympic FC, and the signing of a player like Sotirios reaffirms our club’s commitment to increasing awareness of football in NSW and, more longer-term, to the development of our club’s juniors.
“Apart from his two appearances, Sotiris will run a number of coaching clinics within our club and at various grassroots clubs in the area.”
Sunday, 23 March 2014
Belmore Sports Ground
Kick-off: 5pm (gates open at 1pm)
Sunday, 6 April 2014
Belmore Sports Ground
Kick-off 3pm (gates open at 11am)comments