INTERVIEW: The Cypriot Platini with a World Record Breaking Museum

INTERVIEW: The Cypriot Platini with a World Record Breaking Museum
 

AGONAsport’s Marios Antoniou sat down with Philippos Stavrou Platini to talk about his Guinness World Record Museum dedicated to footballing legend Michel Platini.

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In May 2014, as a student at the University of Cyprus, I visited a press conference for an annual tournament organized by the veteran football players of Nicosia teams. Philippos Stavrou Platini showed up wearing a France T-shirt and I instinctively went to talk to him as I wore my Boca Juniors jersey. His passion for Michel Platini was evident and as often described, accurately I would say, a form of craziness. 

Philippos Stavrou legally added Platini to his name, which in itself shows his unusual devotion and love for the French footballing legend. Furthermore, this love towards the former UEFA President and the devotion on collecting memorabilia about him was what brought two Guinness World Records to the village of Mosfiloti, which is home to the Museum of Platini. 

Four years later, I finally made my way to Mosfiloti, this time representing AGONAsport. When we went inside the museum I did not know where to turn my head first. The thousands of items on display overwhelm anyone that walks inside. The hospitality of the Cypriot Platini was everything you would expect from a local when you walk into their home. 

Philippos puts up a great effort in what he does and despite the rising popularity of the museum and the worldwide exposure it receives, the government does not show any interest in helping him out. It is a true treasure to have this World Record-breaking museum in Cyprus. I hope you enjoy the interview and if you ever find yourselves in Cyprus, take a trip to Mosfiloti, check out the “temple of football” that the Cypriot Platini created and I promise you, the experience will be unforgettable. 

AGONAsport: What is this place that we find ourselves in now?

Filippos Stavrou Platini: We are in Mosfiloti, in the district of Larnaca in our beloved Cyprus. This place is called the “Museum of Platini” and is divided into four sections. We have the “Temple of Platini”, the “House of Platini,” the “Office of Platini,” and then a small house which is called the “Workshop of Platini”.

AS: Let’s start from the beginning, how did this love of yours for Platini begin?

FSP: When I played for Ermis Aradippou they called me Platini, and I decided to learn about this man. I searched and found more about this great French player who played for Juventus, St. Etienne, Nancy, and won 3 Ballon d’Ors awards in his career. I started to collect materials little by little. First, I started the collection in a snack bar/coffee shop and afterward, I transformed it into a full taverna before it became a museum. I continued to gather memorabilia and I had so many items that I went on to receive two Guinness World Records for the largest collection of football and athletic pieces, with a total of 40,609 pieces. Now, you can find 49,100 pieces and I will break my own record at 50,000. The Guinness World Record organization would not accept a record for the biggest collection of Platini pieces, however, they have a category for most football and athletic collections, and I received both World Records in the respective categories.

AS: Briefly, what can we find in this collection? I see photos, scraps from newspapers, cups, balls, jerseys, etc. 

FSP: In the collection, you will find literally anything you can imagine about Platini. There are around 4,000 pieces that were gifted to us for the museum by players that visited from various clubs of Cyprus and other sporting figures. We appreciate these gifts and we display them for a month in the “temple” section, and then afterward, we move them to the “Platini Workshop.” We hope that when we have a large museum, if there is interest from the state, that we can make a great museum to help promote the visibility of our country. Then, we can display all the memorabilia and we will have numerous tourists that will come to enjoy this massive collection.

AS: How did you feel when you were awarded the Guinness World records?

FSP: The Guinness World records are rewards for my hard work and the joy of a dream coming true. With the two Guinness World Records, I made my country known to the whole world, and when Platini came here as UEFA president, it was again seen around the world on many media outlets. I am really proud of this. Cyprus was heard all around the world because of the museum, even Euronews came here to do a report. 

AS: Do you think that the Guinness World records helped the museum?

FSP: I can tell you that the biggest boost to the publicity of the museum was when Michel Platini himself visited on the 9th of August 2009. He came here as President of UEFA and it was such a big, pleasant surprise. From then on, the museum has been on an upward course and I say again, it became known around the world. That is what caught the attention of the Guinness World Record organization and they paid a visit. Simple online research confirms this. Imagine sitting in France, China, America, or any other place in the world, and you will see that many people come here to view and write about the museum. TV Francaise 2 came to do a 56-minute documentary about Platini’s time as UEFA President. The documentary began right here in Cyprus, in Mosfiloti. The first 5 minutes were highlights of the museum. L’Equipe and its channel also visited, along with many other French media sources. We even made our way into tourist guides in France, however, unfortunately, our government doesn’t seem to support or have interest in advertising museum.

AS: How did you view the man, Platini, and what relationship do you have with him?

FSP: When he visited for the first time he was very emotional. When his wife came, she said repeatedly “Oh my God, oh my God” because she could not believe her eyes. I am going to tell you this about Platini… You tell people in Cyprus to come and see the museum but they do not care or show interest in it, however, Platini himself promised me when we met for the first time at the Cyprus Football Association’s opening in 2007, that he would visit the museum. As I previously mentioned, he came to the museum here in Mosfiloti as a surprise in 2009 when he was President of UEFA. He is also a very good person and considers himself a friend of Cyprus and Greece. 

AS: How did you see the accusations against Platini and what are your opinions on this matter?

FSP: First of all, everyone envied Platini and they brought him down because he did not satisfy certain people’s interests. Platini had to leave UEFA due to his support of smaller countries, while bigger nations reacted against changes he promoted in UEFA. The changes came against the interests of the “big boys.” A clever trap was set up regarding his involvement in the selection of the World Cup host country and “they” managed to dethrone him. Platini had to leave because he clearly did not support “their” interests. However, like it or not, Platini is a legend and he will remain a true footballing legend. Moreover, we cannot forget that Platini’s changes helped our own teams bring successes to our country in European competitions. Anorthosis were the first to do so followed by other clubs such as APOEL and Apollon, as well as AEK and AEL. 

AS: What is your favorite piece in the museum from Platini and from the rest of the collection?

FSP: There are so many, and around 190 are signed by Platini himself, jerseys, banners, and others. My favorite, however, is the suit Platini wore at various functions from 2004-2010 when he was UEFA President. He wore it while he was President and then gave it to the museum as a gift. 

From the rest, I would have to say this jersey from Didier Deschamps from a match between Cyprus and France in 1989, which France won 2-0. It was given to us by AEL Limassol veteran Makis Sokratous. It is noteworthy to me, because Platini was the manager of the French national team at the time, and Deschamps came off the bench to lead France to the 1990 World Cup. The longtime goalkeeper of the Cypriot national team, Nikos Panayiotou, gave us a jersey of French goalkeeper Gregory Coupet in 2003, as well. Those two pieces, I think are the most important. Also, Philippos Kalotheou gave me a Spain jersey from a 5-0 Cyprus loss to Spain. That jersey along with others were signed by Spanish footballing legend Emilio Butragueno when he recently visited Cyprus for the UEFA Champions League match between APOEL and Real Madrid.

AS: Other than Platini, who would you classify as the most important person that has visited the museum? Could you define a memorable moment from that visit?

FSP: One in particular that I found moving was Jean-Luc Florent, who was the French Ambassador to Cyprus. He was a good person and also invited me to the embassy. I was at the ceremony when he left his post. They have already informed me that the new ambassador is planning to visit the museum as well. 

From players, there was the Frenchman that plays for AEK Larnaca, Florian Taulemesse, and in regards to Cypriot players, there was APOEL’s Giorgos Merkis. Thankfully, PASP, the Cypriot players union, shows lots of support in regards to what we display. Also, many of the players come here to eat, so they support us in that way as well. When people come from France, they tend to get emotional and appreciate our no entrance fee policy to view the museum. I’ll never forget the time a group of people came from Marseille. They were known for their fanaticism and they saw the museum and all started singing the French national anthem. That was really such a touching moment for me.

AS: What are the hours of operations of the museum and how is it generally run?

FSP: The museum opens daily, except Sundays, from 1:00 in the afternoon until around 11:00 at night, or it depends on how busy we are. There is no entrance fee and despite that we are closed on Sunday, if someone calls us, we will gladly open and show them the museum. Also, we operate as a restaurant and our visitors can eat or drink something and support us that way and our efforts here.  

AS: What are the future plans for the museum?

FSP: My goal is to create a proper museum. If the governing bodies such as the Ministry of Culture, the Cyprus Sports Organisation (CSO), and the Cypriot Football Association (CFA) support us, we will definitely get much more attention and publicity. Unfortunately, despite the fact that four Larnaka district members of the parliament sent a letter to the CSO to support the museum, they did not even respond to the request. All of Cyprus knows about the museum and the efforts here, and so many people visit us from abroad, but sadly the CSO did not even bother to take a look at this project. I am doing what I love and I am crazy about it. I give publicity to my country all over the world and that makes me proud. What I do gives me life, I love it. I am a collector and spend hours on maintaining the memorabilia. However, despite my efforts, maintaining such a collection is chaotic. Without exaggerating I would need two apartment buildings to store everything in the way that they deserved to be displayed. 

AS: AGONAsport is the only English-based website dedicated to Greek sports, and we wanted you to send a message to our readers, the Greek and Cypriot diaspora around the world. 

FSP: Be well, wherever you are, think about your country, I’m proud that my craziness has brought more exposure to Cyprus around the world. When you come to Cyprus, I invite everyone to come to see this unique museum that has won two Guinness World Records. However, as always, wherever you are, think of our beloved Cyprus.

Special thanks to Stelios Italos for the photographs and Andreas Mantzas for the translation.

Learn more about Museum of Platini and connect with the Cypriot Platini :

https://www.facebook.com/MuseumOfPlatini/

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000886719354

https://www.facebook.com/cypriotplatini.philippos

Watch Euronews video on the Museum of Platini

Below are pictures from the Museum of Platini

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by Marios Antoniou
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