OFI legend Eugene Gerards passes away at 77
On Tuesday, legendary OFI Crete manager Eugene Gerards passed away at the age of 77. In the past few years, the Dutchman had been suffering from serious health issues which left him confined to a wheelchair.
His death is a huge loss for Greek football. Eugene Gerards started coaching OFI in 1985, staying in charge until 2000, making him the longest serving Greek manager in the country’s history. Gerards took OFI to Greek Cup glory in 1987, before leading the club to the UEFA Cup Last 16 in the 1993/1994 season. In that successful European campaign, Gerards’ OFI even managed to defeat Atletico Madrid. Alongside his time at OFI, he managed APOEL Nicosia and Iraklis, while working for AEK Athens as a scout between 2004 and 2009.
However, his deteriorating health forced him to retire from football and not being able to walk without a wheelchair. Recently, in Heraklion, Gerards was honoured by a special friendly match in which Greek football legends turned out in the 77-year old’s support. Gerards was at the game in person, but unfortunately that turned out to be his final public appearance.
On the club’s official YouTube channel, OFI released a touching video looking back at some of Gerards’ memorable moments in Heraklion. The clip was accompanied by a statement: “For OFI, this is a sad day, a terribly tragic moment. Rest in peace, coach. We will never forget you, Ollande!”
Not only OFI paid a tribute to the coaching legend. Well-known organisations such as Panathinaikos, PAOK, AEK, Olympiacos, APOEL, the Super League and the Hellenic Football Federation all released statements extending their condolences to Gerards’ family and pointing out his huge contributions to the development of Greek football. Gerards’ funeral will take place on Thursday in Crete, an island which became his home. Gerards had earlier said that he would like to die a Cretan.