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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 20 October 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 20 OCTOBER 2018 27 SPORT Chris Ikonomidis’ love of football, Greece and… pastitsio Meet the Greek Australian Socceroo who signed with Perth Glory DIMITRI KALLOS Greek Australian Socceroo Chris Ikonomidis will be playing for a second consecutive season to the A-League after signing a three year deal with Perth Glory. The 23-year-old spent last season on loan from Italian Serie A side Lazio to Western Sydney. He made 10 appearances and scored three goals in a successful six month period with the Wanderers. Ikonomidis boasts six caps for the Socceroos to date. "The appeal of coming to Perth was the project that is happening at the club," he said. "I definitely think that Glory will be competing for the title this year and that was one of the most tempting things about signing. I enjoyed my time in the A-League last season and now I'm really excited to get started with Perth." Neos Kosmos caught up with Christopher James Ikonomidis towards the conclusion of the previous A-League and talked with him about his career, Ange Postecoglou, Graham Arnold, Greece and… pastitsio. What was it like to be back in Australia for competition after so long? It was fantastic. I love Australia, I was born and grew up here. I missed the country and loved ones, so it was really nice to be back after being away in Italy for six years. What were your impressions, from your six month period with the A-league? There is a great football cul- Dimitri Kallos and Chris Ikonomidis. ture in Australia. There's a lot of passion. You can see that with the fans. There are good clubs and generally the Aleague has impressed me. The stint in the A-league, how do you think it helped you? It was a good move for me because I was playing every week and I showed what I can do on the pitch. You played under Ange Postecoglou. What is your assessment of his time at the helm of the Socceroos? He did really well. He transformed the team into a really tight group. The way the camps and everything was run, it was like a big family in there and obviously he gave me my chance when I was 19 to fulfil my dream, to play for the Socceroos which I'm also grateful for. How do you feel about the appointment of Graham Arnold as the new Head Coach of the national team? I think it's good to have an Australian coaching in the national team, because we've seen the benefits we got from Ange, so I think there's positive things coming for Australian football. Growing up as a player, who did you aspire to and why? I usually looked towards the Australian players doing well overseas. Timmy Cahill was the number one for me. Just watching him do his thing, putting Australians on the map for football made him my idol when I was younger. Then, to go on and play with him was a dream come true. They say the Italian football environment is very demanding with the fans hardly forgiving players for the defeat of their team. Having been in Italy for more than six years, have you become accustomed to that environment and what challenges have you had to overcome? It's a difficult environment in regards to the fans. They put a lot of demands on the team and the players. They want to win every game and obviously that's not possible in football, so they make it very known, their support and loyalty. They really just want every player to give it a 100 per cent. They put a lot of demands and it's tough but it's also very rewarding when you win. While you were in Italy, what did you miss most? Besides my family and friends, I missed the beaches and the weather. Here, where it's never cold in Australia even in winter. Also my mum's cooking. While in Europe, did you have the opportunity to fol- low the Greek league and if yes, what do you think of it? Yes, I followed it. It's a very strong league. Obviously, it's in Europe and they have got a big footballing culture there. They've got fans just as passionate as the Italians. They've got a few big teams, so it's a strong league and I will never say no to one day going there and playing. Have you got the Greek passport? Yes. So, while in Italy, you played as a European player? Yes, exactly. Any favourite Greek team? I like Panathinaikos. Tell us about your Greek background and your connection and affection to the Greek community. I love Greece. My parents are both from Greece; all my grandparents were born in Greece. My mum's part is from the island of Limnos and my dad's from Thessaly, so I feel a strong connection there. It was emotional for me to play against Greece a couple of years back with Australia because, obviously, I'm Australian, but to play against them was extra special for me. Have you visited Greece? Yes, I've been there a few times. I went back with my yiayia and she showed me all of her old village and where she used to grow up and stuff like that. What are your impressions of the people and the culture that you witnessed yourself while being there? I think the culture is one of the best in the world. It's so relaxed and the people there are just so happy with where they are. So, the culture is one of my favourite things about Greece and, obviously, the Islands are a big thing for me. I love visiting the Islands and seeing different beaches and stuff like that. What is your favourite Greek food and who cooks it for you? That's a tough one. Actually, I had the other night a big tray of pastitsio which has to be my favourite, but there are many things I like. My mum makes very good Greek food. Not Yiayia? She does as well but I have to say my mum. South Melbourne’s A-League dream still alive The FFA have moved to reject another two bids, with the teams currently in the race being reduced to six ALEX ANYFANTIS South Melbourne's bid to join the A-League is moving forward, as it is now within the final six teams in the running to receive a license to become eligible for the 2019/20 competition. This comes after FFA's decision to axe proposals from Ipswich and Wollongong on Tuesday, leaving just Western Melbourne, Team 11, Macarthur South West Sydney, Canberra and Southern Expansion to compete with the Greek team for the two coveted spots. Speaking with Neos Ko- smos right after the decision was made public, the head of the committee responsible for South Melbourne's bid, Bill Papastergiadis, showed his enthusiasm: "We've prepared a very detailed bid, that dealt with the social, economic and athletic requirements of a bid for the A-League and one that we believe met and exceeded the criteria set out by the FFA. So to now be selected in the top six, when I think originally there were an excess of 14 or 16 teams in the bid, I think is a positive development for the club. It bodes well for our opportunity to be included in the expanded league. "Nothing is for sure. We are taking nothing for granted in our preparation for our induction into the A-League. We're going to continue our discussions with the FFA to ensure that our bid is seriously considered for the purposes of any new expansion team in the league." However, the announcement came at a bit of a troubled time for the sport in Australia, as there are changes on the organisational level, with the board having met just a few days ago to vote on the Congress Review Working Group suggestions. During that meeting it was said that the decision for the two teams to be included in the expansion of the A-League was to be pushed back a little (although no specified time frame was given) in order for things to settle down. "It's been indicated to us that the matter will go to a decision of the new board," says Mr Papastergiadis. "That board is to meet next month. The FFA has been consistent in its message about the need for additional teams in an A-League, the need to inject additional support and also interest in the league. "The FFA committed towards ensuring that the league is expanded. So from my understanding it appears that the expansion process is still on track and the decision may be made within the next month or so." According to Mr Papastergiadis, South Melbourne's bid differs from all others in that the team already has a huge fan base and is a historic club that has provided the national team with many players over the years. He also promised many surprises for the fans, should the bid go through. This logo could soon be among those participating in the A-League.
13 October 2018
27 October 2018