AGONA Profile: Angelos Anastasiadis, the new Greek leader
On Thursday, the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) confirmed that 65-year old Angelos Anastasiadis has been appointed head coach of the senior Greek national team, replacing German manager Michael Skibbe. In connection with the news, AGONAsport analyses his career.
A Thessaloniki native, Anastasiadis naturally began his playing career with hometown club PAOK, progressing through the youth system to eventually break into the first team for the start of the 1973/1974 campaign. In that same season, he won the Greek Cup with the Dikefalos tou Vorra, before becoming a Greek champion two years later when PAOK edged out AEK Athens by five points.
Anastasiadis claimed two Greek Cups and one domestic championship at Panathinaikos between 1981 and 1984, later playing with PAS Korinthos and ending his footballing days at Diagoras Rodos in July 1987. A versatile midfielder, Anastasiadis will mostly be remembered for his success with PAOK, where he made over 170 appearances and was a vital part of the set-up. He also played in a handful of matches with the Ethniki Omada.
Since turning his hand to professional coaching in 1994, Anastasiadis has actually only won the one Greek Cup in 2003 with PAOK, however he’s built up a solid reputation with stints at the likes of Iraklis, Panathinaikos, PAS Giannina, AE Larissa, Platanias and the Cypriot national team, turning into one of the country’s most well known coaches.
To be honest, Anastasiadis endured a miserable start to his life as a coach, joining AO Kavala in July 1994 and leaving after just three months and seven matches in charge. Next year, he was handed a coaching role at Edessaikos, managing 48 matches and taking a points per game average of 1.13 in 18 months with the organisation.
STINTS WITH PAOK
PAOK, the club which Anastasiadis grew up with, first employed him as their manager in February 1997. Immediately, the coach steered PAOK back to European football, helping the Thessaloniki outfit qualify for the UEFA Cup. In the first round of that competition, PAOK pulled off a stunning achievement, defeating Arsenal 2:1 on aggregate with Zisis Vryzas netting the crucial away goal in the dying moments of the second leg in London.
Anastasiadis left PAOK in May 1998 after the campaign had ended, but he soon returned to his beloved club, re-employed in September of the same year. In February 1999, Anastasiadis once again left the Dikefalos tou Vorra after overseeing 13 matches and registering an impressive average of 2.38 points a game.
The Greek then coached for three years at Iraklis and Panathinaikos and received the reins at PAOK for a third time in August 2002. In the subsequent 2002/2003 season, Anastasiadis masterminded the Greek Cup triumph, defeating arch-rivals Aris 1:0 in the grand final thanks to a goal in the 24th minute by Georgios Georgiadis at the Toumba Stadium. To this date, this remains Anastasiadis’ only major trophy as a coach.
Amazingly, Anastasiadis’ love affair with PAOK still hadn’t reached its conclusion. In the summer of 2014, he made yet another comeback with the team, leading PAOK to third place in the regular season of the 2014/2015 Super League. The club missed out on a spot in the UEFA Champions League after finishing in a disappointing fifth in the now extinct European playoffs.
Asides from PAOK, Anastasiadis is famed for his management of the Cypriot national team. While his average stay at one organisation is a mere 1.15 years, he stayed with Cyprus from 2004 to 2011, registering 12 wins, nine draws and 26 losses in 47 matches. Anastasiadis is generally regarded as Cyprus’ best manager in the island’s history, and taking into account how he made the team competitive in Europe, he deserves that title.
Anastasiadis enjoyed famous wins over the Republic of Ireland (5:2), Wales (3:1) and Bulgaria (4:1) with the Cypriots, also drawing 1:1 with the mighty Germany.
FUTURE WITH THE ETHNIKI
A deeply religious man, Anastasiadis never likes to accept praise for his teams’ victories on the pitch, always passing all of the credit over to the players. Such modesty and passion for the job makes him popular among footballers, but the pressure on him to succeed with the Ethniki is overwhelming. Anastasiadis has signed a one-year deal with the EPO for the entire UEFA Euro 2000 qualifying campaign, and given the high quality players at his disposal, it would be a travesty if Greece missed out on a third consecutive major competition.
His first squad with the Greek national team has raised hopes among fans. As promised, he left out veterans Orestis Karnezis, Georgios Tzavellas, Alexandros Tziolis and Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, instead choosing to focus on youth with Odysseas Vlachodimos, Dimitris Giannoulis, Leonardo Koutris and Efthymis Koulouris in the team. Fellow young prospects Konstantinos Tsimkas, Konstantinos Galanopoulos and Anastasios Chatzigiovannis are expected to be gradually integrated into the Ethniki in 2019.
Can Anastasiadis be the miracle man which Greek supporters are crying out for? The jury is 50/50. A positive start in the two upcoming UEFA Nations League matches with Finland and Estonia would be nice, but the main goal is qualification for Euro 2020. The players possess the required ability to do Anastasiadis proud.