Europa League can bring new-found hope to Greek football
A new year represents a time to repent those sins of the past. For Greek football, those remnants of match fixing and corruption still linger over the country with efforts to clear its name far from complete just yet.
The Greek word metanoia (meaning repentance) seems most appropriate with 2012 approaching. Many Greeks see sport, specifically football, as an escape from the current economic crisis which has created mass unemployment and poverty throughout Greece.
While the ordinary working-class Greek looks for a way out of these dark times, it is Greece’s top clubs and players plying their trade abroad who have a real opportunity to fly the Galanolefki flag.
Raising the profile
Talented youngsters Apostolos Vellios, Stefanos Kapino and Kyriakos Papadopoulos have all individually impressed for their respective clubs and shown that Greece rightly remains a worthy competitor in European football.
Domestically, Greece’s top clubs have disappeared from Europe’s Premier tournament in recent seasons. Olympiacos’ (pictured) emphatic Champions League group stage win over Arsenal proved that there is still plenty to come from the Greeks, while PAOK’s stunning 2-1 victory against Spurs raised further eyebrows across Europe.
Both Olympiacos and PAOK have a burgeoning opportunity to raise the profile of Greek football by progressing through the latter stages of this season’s Europa League. The north and south of Greece can then once again be considered a genuine threat.
National team coach Fernando Santos’ extraordinary unbeaten record in Euro 2012 qualification surprised many onlookers and the Portuguese revealed earlier in the week that the key to further sporting success requires Greeks to ‘keep their feet on the ground’.
“Greece perform so well on the sporting arena because of the passion Greeks exhibit.
“The problem with Greeks is that they don’t usually stay humble after reaching success which costs them dearly”, stated Santos.
Olympiacos, PAOK and the Greek national team will all be hoping to prove him wrong in 2012, with Europe’s so-called ‘elite’ watching on from the sidelines.
The reputation of Greek football has been battered and dragged through the mud in 2011, but with recent and future potential results, its name now is gradually on its way to getting restored. 2012 – the year of promise.
Picture credit: Getty ImagesTagged in: Europa League, football, Greek football
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter