10 famous faces who failed in Greece
In connection with the recent departure of Yaya Toure from Olympiacos after a poor second stint at the club, AGONAsport looks at some other famous faces which failed to make an impact in Greece.
The great return didn’t work out. In the off-season, Olympiacos managed to snap up Yaya Toure after the 35-year old Ivorian midfielder was released by Manchester City, a move which was widely championed by Thrylos fans. Taking into account Toure’s brilliance which was on show when he represented Olympiacos in the 2005/2006 season, many thought he would roll back the years in Piraeus, but it didn’t materialise and he was constantly left on the sidelines by head coach Pedro Martins. Olympiacos officially cancelled his contract in early December, less than four months after he re-joined the Erythrolefkoi.
Let’s take a trip back in time and look at 10 other famous players which didn’t live up to their expectations after transferring to Greece:
The experienced Ghanaian midfielder arrived in Athens with plenty of fanfare. However, after initially beginning his Greek adventure with an injury which kept on the sidelines for three months, Essien failed to live up the high expectations. Boasting the tag of Panathinaikos’ highest paid player, he didn’t boss the midfield as he previously did with Lyon, Chelsea, Real Madrid and AC Milan, and at the age of 33 his career was heading towards the sunset. A year later, Essien was released from Panathinaikos and it’s not a spell he will want to be reminded of.
In his prime between 2006 and 2014, the tall Portuguese forward performed well with Werder Bremen and Besiktas, but after playing for the likes of Cesena, Kuban Krasnodar, Anzhi and Hannover, it was clear that his best days were firmly behind him. At AEK, Almeida wasn’t ever going to transform into the prolific striker which the team was crying out for, and he eventually left in August 2017 after an unsuccessful year in Athens. Almeida managed to score five Super League goals in 22 matches.
In late August 2016, ex Everton and Manchester City centre-back Lescott opted to pen a two-year contract with AEK, but he quickly picked up a horrible knee injury and didn’t seem overly keen on receiving treatment from the Enosis’ medical team. Instead, Lescott returned to England, and AEK promptly decided to cancel his contract with the defender only playing in four Super League games for the Athenians. Surely Lescott has to be high on the list of AEK’s worst transfers in history.
Once again, a world footballing star transferred to Greece in the twilight zone of his career. In his heyday, Bulgarian hitman Berbatov was lethal when representing Bayer Leverkusen, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, but he signed for PAOK when he was already preparing for retirement. In the 2015/2016 season, Berbatov moved to Thessaloniki, however he only managed to score a mere four Super League goals and he was hastily shuffled out of the Toumba Stadium in June 2016. Not what PAOK owner Ivan Savvidis had hoped for.
In his native Italy, Signori regularly stole the headlines with his large amount of goals, in particular scoring 106 (!) league goals in just 152 appearances for Lazio. In 2004, Thessaloniki outfit Iraklis secured the 36-year old’s signature in what was a major coup for the Greeks, however he only played in five matches with the club without scoring a single goal.
The Paraguayan star was simply unstoppable at Benfica. In Portugal, Cardozo gained a reputation as a lethal finisher, netting over 100 goals with the Lisbon giants in seven years. After a short stint at Trabzonspor, the striker was snapped up by Olympiacos, but he was largely on the sidelines in Piraeus and only scored three goals in 22 Super League matches, a miserable record for a forward of his calibre. He departed Greece after the 2016/2017 season and now plays in Paraguay.
Kevin Mirallas (second spell)
Could anyone predict that his second spell at Olympiacos would be so disastrous? Previously, Belgian forward Mirallas was a true hit at the Karaiskakis Stadium when playing for the Greeks from 2010 to 2012, weighing in with plenty of goals. Sadly for the Thrylos, he couldn’t make lightning strike twice when returning on loan from Everton in January 2018, giving average performances as Olympiacos slipped to third in the table. Predictably, Olympiacos didn’t activate his release clause, and Everton promptly sent him on another loan to Fiorentina for the 2018/2019 season.
The well-known Brazilian midfielder earned plaudits for his assured showings in the middle of the park with Deportivo La Coruna, Real Madrid and the Brazilian national team, but when moving to Panathinaikos in 2005, he didn’t come close to living up to the hype. Incidentally, after a lacklustre season in Athens, Conceicao took the decision to hang up his football boots for good.
Aged 34, the Brazilian forward was tempted to join Aris Thessaloniki in 2008 after he had lit up Serie A and the Bundesliga in the late 1990s/early 2000s with Udinese, Parma and Borussia Dortmund. He was already in the last knockings of his career, but Amoroso was a disappointment at Aris, only finding the back of the net once in nine Super League games. Aris had reason to be excited when they signed Amoroso, but the international striker was past it.
Surely the best footballer Iceland has ever produced. In England, Gudjohnsen was regarded as one of the Premier League’s most dangerous players, often taking a starring role with Chelsea. In 2011, he penned a two-year contract with AEK, and he was given a fantastic welcome by Enosis fans when he arrived in the country. In rather unfortunate circumstances, Gudjohnsen received a serious injury early in the season, and he ended up playing in 10 Super League games and scoring one goal. The Icelandic forward left the Athenian club after the 2011/2012 campaign finished.