Former Super League stars enjoy life in the Gamma Ethniki
Despite the huge gulf in class between the Super League and the Gamma Ethniki, there are plenty of former Greek stars who have taken the step down to the country’s third tier of football. In a special featured article, AGONAsport looks at those players who used to be heroes for Greece’s biggest clubs, but are now earning their money in the third division.
Vangelis Mantzios, 34 years of age, Egaleo
Once touted as one of Greece’s most talented strikers, Mantzios recently signed for Gamma Ethniki outfit Egaleo in the winter transfer window. He had been without a club for the season up to 2018, failing to find a team after cancelling his contract with Levadiakos because of a doping scandal. Nevertheless, he is maybe the most well-known star in the Gamma Ethniki.
The 34-year old’s best days came at capital giants Panathinaikos, where he made a massive impression during his six years with the club. Mantzios’ high point came in the 2008/2009 Champions League season, when he scored four goals in eight matches and helped Panathinaikos top a group with Inter Milan, Werder Bremen and Anorthosis Famagusta. Later on in his career, he represented Maritimo, OFI Crete, Baku, Atromitos and of course Levadiakos. He did well in his spell in Levadia up until the doping issue, scoring over 30 goals in 100 appearances. Mantzios’ current contract with Egaleo runs for the remainder of the 2017/2018 campaign.
Christos Patsatzoglou, 38 years of age, Fostiras
Defensive midfielder Patsatzoglou enjoyed a hugely successful career at the highest level, winning eight Greek championships, four Greek Cups and competing in the UEFA Champions League on a regular basis with Olympiacos. He later spent time with Omonia Nicosia, AEK Athens and PAS Giannina among other teams, eventually working his way down to the Gamma Ethniki. He signed a contract with Fostiras before the start of the season, a club based not far away from the Greek capital. When back in his prime, teams such as Manchester United and AC Milan were rumoured to be after Patsatzoglou, who can also play in defence to brilliant effect. Patsatzoglou participated in 45 Greek national team matches.
Giannis Siderakis, 30 years of age, Agios Ierotheos
The ex-Olympiacos goalkeeper is only 30, but the best team which wanted to acquire his services was Gamma Ethniki club Agios Ierotheos. Siderakis put pen to paper on a contract with the minnows this January, having most recently played for Aris and Trikala in the Football League. He came through the Olympiacos academy at the start of his career, going on to play in the Super League for Panionios and AEL Kalloni. Alongside other Greek clubs, Siderakis spent time at Cypriot team Doxa Katokopias in 2014 and 2015.
Eleftherios Sakellariou, 30 years of age, Trigala Rafinas
Sakellariou, most famous for his three year stint at PAOK Thessaloniki, signed for Asteras Iteas in October, but he soon made the move to fellow Gamma Ethniki club Trigala Rafinas. When a PAOK player, the left-back played in ten Super League matches, also competing in the UEFA Europa League. His career gradually deteriorated after that, becoming a real journeyman as he swapped clubs every season. He’s only 30 years old, but the door back to the Super League appears tight shut.
Miguel Sebastian Garcia, 34 years of age, Volos NFC
When playing in the Super League over the course of seven years, Garcia (nicknamed Pitu) was on the books of Aris, Iraklis and Atromitos. He even made a return to Aris in 2017, playing for the Thessaloniki club in the Football League. At the moment, the aging 34-year old represents Volos NFC in the Gamma Ethniki.
Mattheos Maroukakis, 28 years of age, Asteras Amaliada
Striker Maroukakis made a name for himself while playing with Kallithea, registering more than 140 appearances for the club. He then played in the Super League with Panionios and Larissa, performing particularly well with the latter. He concluded a deal with Asteras Amaliada in 2017 and continues to play with the Gamma Ethniki side.
Diego Romano, 37 years of age, Ethniki Piraeus
Playing as an attacking midfielder, the Argentine played in 154 Super League matches with Ergotelis, scoring eighteen goals along the away. He assisted Apollon Smyrnis in returning to the top league in the 2016/2017 season, but he was then sent to third division club Ethniki Piraeus.
Georgios Abaris, 35 years of age, Iraklis Thessaloniki
The goalkeeper, now 35 years old, played in the Super League with Iraklis, AEL, PAS Giannina and Asteras Tripolis, playing in 191 games at Greece’s highest level. In the twilight zone of his career, Abaris opted to return to former club Iraklis in the Gamma Ethniki.
Lucas Favalli, 32 years of age, GAS Ialysos
Favalli scored ten goals in 131 Super League matches in Greece, now playing on the sunny island of Rhodes. Earlier in his career, the Argentinian midfielder was a player of Super League clubs Apollon Kalamarias, Atromitos, Levadiakos, Panetolikos and Kalloni.
Dimitris Souanis, 32 years of age, Diagoras
Another who is enjoying himself in Rhodes. Now a member of the Diagoras club, winger Souanis did well in the higher ranks of Greek football, playing for Xanthi in the Super League and scoring ten goals in the division.
Lefteris Gialousis, 32 years of age, PASA Irodotos
Centre-back Gialousis has experience of 78 Super League matches with Ergotelis, even scoring the one goal. He also laced up his boots for Olympiacos Volou, Irodotos, Asteras Tripolis, AO Kavala and Kissamikos.
Konstantinos Nebegleras, 42 years of age, Achilleas Farsalon
Yes, midfielder Nebegleras is 42, but incredibly he still continues to play in the Gamma Ethniki with Achilleas Farsalon. Played for AEL, Paniliakos, Iraklis, Aris and Atromitos in his younger days.