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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 27 October 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 27 OCTOBER 2018 27 SPORT Olympiacos legend Tohouroglou wins Goalkeeper of the Year at 46 CON STAMOCOSTAS Former Olympiacos star Kyriakos Tohouroglou continues to defy his age after being awarded the 2018 NSW NPL3 goalkeeper of the year at the ripe old age of 46. Tohouroglou has been playing for Greek backed club Gladesville Ryde Magic since 2012 and in his first season won goalkeeper of the year, and player of the year. Year after year the Greek Super League cult legend has continued to produce outstanding performances winning the goalkeeper of the season award in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2018. Tohouroglou looks back on his most recent accolade with charm and wit. "I might be 47, I feel 18, but my body is 65," he says. "People have asked if I will play till I'm 50 but my body isn't listening. Everybody laughs when I say that but I'll go for one more year then I'll see." The 46-year-old says the secret to his longevity is down to keeping the same mindset in the NPL 3 as he did when he graced the iconic football stadiums of Europe. "It's the same mentality but the difference is less stress here," he says. "When you play for Olympiacos for six years and PAOK for eight years at that top level you have to be up there. For 14 years every game counts. Now I'm having fun that's why I'm nearly 47 and I'm having a good time and that's why I'm not retiring. Because it's something that I do on Sundays that I love, plus all the stress of work during the week, you forget everything." Tohouroglou was born in 1972 and grew up in Sydney and then moved back to Greece Athens and it was one of my best games of the year and it was the season Madrid won it as well," he recalled. "There were 90,000 people watching as well as everyone all over the world. It was the best feeling, playing against those players. After the game you say 'well done' and the friendships start building. After that, we played them again as we had them three times in four years during the group stage." PHOTO: LOOPII #PHOTOSBYLOOPII FOR FOOTBALL NSW with his family in 1983. He spent 16 seasons playing in Greece's top flight and in 1992 he began his professional career with his hometown club of Doxa Drama. "I am still a supporter for Doxa," he says. "My dad was a soccer fanatic and the first game I ever saw in Greece was Doxa Drama versus OFI and Doxa won 2-0. I played for Doxa from the age of 13 up until the senior team. Back then in 1990-91, I was 18 and I was the only semi-professional that was playing professionally. Then at the age of 19 I signed my first professional contract." During his third season with Doxa, one match in particular would change the course of the goalkeeper's career in Greece forever. "It was during the 1992 season and Olympiacos was beating all the teams at Karaiskakis Stadium 4-0 and 5-0," he recalls. "It was the year they played Monaco in Europe and beat them. But playing for Doxa we had only lost 2-0 and I had a good game for them. They kept an eye on me and I got transferred." Tohouroglou had two stints with Olympiacos but it's the second time with the club between 1997-2000 which is the most memorable as it included three Super League titles and a Greek Cup. "The best season was the second league title we won in 1998," he says "It was something different. We played well and scored a lot of goals and I was playing regularly. We had everything that year. We beat Olympiacos in the Greek Cup and we won the league with four games to go, so we could party easier. "The year before Olympiacos won the league after Panathaniakos had ruled for years. Then we started to rule. It was also the first year of the Champions League where we almost went past the group stage." That Champions League campaign saw Tohouroglou come up against a Real Madrid featuring Croatian Davor Suker, Spaniard Raul and Montenegrin Predrag Mijatovic and as the goalkeeper in the home tie managed a clean sheet. Not surprisingly he looks back on that game as a highlight of his career. "We copped five over there in Spain and then it was 0-0 in The era that Tohouroglou was in Greece coincided with several other Greek Australians who were also playing in the country's top flight. After moving from Panathinaikos, Chris Kalantzis joined the goalkeeper at Olympiacos and along with fellow Greek Australian Steve Refenes were teammates. While Jim Patikas (AEK Athens), John Anastasiadis (PAOK) and Louis Christodoulou (Panathinaikos) were rivals and Tohouroglou is particularly proud of his goalkeeping record against the Greek-Aussie boys. "If I remember well - because lots of years have passed - the only one that scored against me was Louis," he says. "But we were like family. We were only rivals when it was game time. Before the game we would be mucking around and ask 'pou tha vrethoume'? "The rest of the time we were together. We had the Australian thing in us. When we weren't playing and the national team was playing we had our BBQs, we went out for dinner and had drinks together." At the height of his powers in Greece, Tohouroglou revealed that he had a chance to join one of the giants of the English Premier League. "I had an offer in 1998 to go 7th Navarino Challenge a great success Athletes from all over the world participated in 28 different events within two days The multinational sports tourism event Navarino Challenge was held for its sixth consecutive year in Messinia of Greece, uniting professional and amateur athletes under the banner of sportsmanship. A number of unique sporting activities were offered to participants throughout the three days of the event in order for them to challenge themselves and show off their skills, such as the Stand Up paddling relay race or the Ford Go Further semi-marathon. Athletes from all over the globe representing 36 different nations took part in the event that effectively promoted multiculturalism. Saturday was the day of the aquatic competitions, with swimmers competing in the 2.8 klm marathon challenge and a showing of a race with Optimist and Laser type crafts by the Navy Club of Pylos 'Nestor'. On Sunday, the challenges continued on dry land, as participants emulated the course that was said to be taken by Tilemachos in his search for Odysseas according to Homer's epic. There were also 5 and 10 km challenges on offer. Other events included tae kwon do, basketball (with a 4-on-4 tournament), beach volley, beachathlon, kids' athletics, climbing and bike riding, pilates, golfing, wrestling, kick boxing, baby swimming and aqua aerobics, high intensity training, group cycling, beach yoga and crossfit. At this year's Navarino Challenge, LUANVI, official provider of sporting goods, supplied all participants with their new state-of-the-art t-shirts that offer for better movement. On Saturday evening a ceremony was held by Qatar Airways, one of the major sponsors of the event, that was extended towards all participants and guests, titled 'A Night To Remember'. During this event that was attended by high figures of the political, athletic and cultural industries, honorary awards were handed out to some of the guests such as former Real Madrid legend Joe Arlaukas, who was also the host, former Greek basketball legendary player and coach Panagiotis Giannakis, and the former captain of the Greek national volleyball team, Michalis Triantafyllidis, olympic champion at 400m. Periklis Iakovakis and twice silver medalist at tae kwon do, Alexandros Nikolaidis were also awarded. To see the results of all the sporting events, visit http:// www.navarinochallenge.com/ results-2018 to Liverpool," he says. "They were watching the Champions League games against Real Madrid and when they saw my height they said he's good but he's too short." Looking back, the goalkeeper has no regrets at the missed opportunity. "No, I don't care. I laugh at this shit," he says. "It's malakies. What's the height going to do? I can see all the tall goalkeepers now and what they are doing? They can't get up for the ball." In Greece, Tohouroglou is seen as a legend and the 46 year-old believes that the fans loved him because of the exuberant attitude he displayed on the pitch. "It's because I was one of the shortest keepers in Greece," he says. "I had the passion. I was one of the crazy ones. I didn't give a shit who we were playing against. Like when we were playing against Real Madrid I was just doing my job." Playing in the NSW NPL 3 for Gladesville Ryde Magic is a world away from the 90,000 fans at the Bernabeu in Madrid or a packed Karaiskakis Stadium in Athens. But Tohouroglou, who works as a cement tester, is content to shun the glamor and glitz of professional football in Europe for the simple life of park football. "I was born poor. I am a simple human being like everyone else," he says. "I was just lucky in life to become what I became out of the game of soccer. I'm still the same person now as I was before I started playing in Greece and before the fame. That's what my parents gave me when I was young. That's how I grew up and that is how I want my kids to grow up."
20 October 2018
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