Lazaros follows in Alexandris’ footsteps
Lazaros Christodoulopoulos’ shock transfer to Olympiacos has drawn comparisons to Alexis Alexandris, who also moved to the Thrylos after winning the Greek crown with AEK Athens.
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Taking into account Christodoulopoulos’ superb season with AEK, in which he took a leading role in the Kitrinomavri’s run to Super League glory, many expected the 31-year old to activate the clause in his contract to spend another year with the Athenian giants. However, Christodoulopoulos turned AEK down, opting to sign with the club’s arch-rivals instead - Olympiacos. For their part, AEK were naturally furious, accusing their star midfielder of holding negotiations with Olympiacos for over a month and going back on his word to remain at the club until 2019. In reply, Christodoulopoulos blamed AEK for putting too much pressure on him to stay.
In signing for Olympiacos, Christodoulopoulos becomes the first player in history to play for all of Greece’s big four - PAOK, Panathinaikos, AEK and Olympiacos.
LAZAROS TAKES LEAF OUT OF ALEXANDRIS’ BOOK
Alexis Alexandris, a retired striker, made a similar decision to Christodoulopoulos in 1994, leaving AEK to join Olympiacos after winning the Greek title. Interestingly, just as now, businessman Dimitris Melissanidis was top dog at the Enosis.
The prolific Alexandris enjoyed three fantastic years with AEK, becoming a Greek champion in each season. Nevertheless, despite transforming into an AEK hero with 49 goals in 89 appearances, Alexandris departed the Enosis for Olympiacos in the summer of 1994. When moving to the Piraeus outfit, the Greek international was blamed for being financially greedy, but he rebuffed the claims: “The issue was not financial. First of all, it was connected with AEK’s behaviour. Considering what I had done for this team, their approach was disappointing. My family and friends know the real reason why I transferred to Olympiacos.”
As for Christodoulopoulos, his reasons for wanting an Olympiacos transfer aren’t so clear. Even before AEK tried to pressure him into staying, he had already entered negotiations with the Thrylos, something which comes across as strange seeing as AEK will play in the UEFA Champions League next season, unlike Olympiacos. According to reports in Greece, Christodoulopoulos requested a significant pay rise at AEK, however the Enosis refused to grant his wish until he signed for the 2018/2019 season.
AEK LOSE KEY PLAYERS FROM TITLE TRIUMPHS
Both Alexandris and Christodoulopoulos were crucial figures for AEK in the championship winning seasons in 1994 and 2018 respectively, popping up with hugely important goals in the domestic league. Boasting 24 goals in the 1993/1994 campaign, Alexandris was AEK’s top scorer, hitting the target on a regular basis to earn a place on the Ethniki Omada roster for the FIFA World Cup. This year, Christodoulopoulos was in the form of his life for AEK, scoring an unforgettable goal against Olympiacos and grabbing decisive markers in AEK’s title charge.
ALEXANDRIS AWAKES SLEEPING GIANT, LAZAROS AIMS TO FOLLOW SUIT
At the time when Alexandris moved to Piraeus, Olympiacos were going through a rough period, not winning the league since 1987. Alexandris helped the Thrylos get back on track though, turning into a club legend. In nine years with Olympiacos, he scored an impressive 135 goals in just 277 matches, contributing to the club winning seven consecutive Greek titles between 1997 and 2003.
Can Christodoulopoulos repeat the same feat and take the Super League crown back to Piraeus? Olympiacos certainly hope so.