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23/10/2000

Latest interview..

Latest interview..
What follows is Nikos' interview at sport.gr :

-Lets start with your injury.

I have been injured since the 24th of August, but I did not have the operation sooner as I was hoping I would be able to avoid it. It's been ten days since I was operated and I am still in the first stages of rehabilitation. I should be ready around the end of January, but since there are always chances of complications, I believe that I will return to the field by mid February or the beginning of March.

-How big a setback an injury as serious as yours is?

It is one of the worse injuries for a football player, however the treatment is the most important part. This is the reason I came to Greece, so I would have the best possible treatment. I have great confidence in the medical team I have known from my days in Olympiakos, so I believe I will have no problems at all.

-Did Newcastle object to you having the operation in Greece?

Yes initially they didn't want me having the op in Greece and this is understandable, but in the end they came round to it and there are no objections anymore about it.

-English fans in general, and Newcastle fans in particular, show a special affection towards you. What do you think about this?

To be honest it is a footballer's greatest pleasure, to have the fans respect and approval, and even more so if they are fans of another team. It is the biggest recognition because the greatest judges are the fans since they have immediate contact with the sport, almost every day. As they follow all the games they have the best judgement.

-How then did these fans react to your injury?

As they are very passionate about there team, whoever gets injured they feel for him. Especially if they see you around town, they shake your hand and give you their best wishes for your health and your return. I had the same happening to me in Greece, but not at the same level. However I think that those who have the respect of the fans always get a compassionate reaction when things are difficult.

-Lets talk about the National Team that is more of interest to your Greek fans. What did you feel after the loss from Albania?

There was a situation where no one knew what to expect. Suddenly we saw politicians, old coaches and old footballers, making front-page news with their comments about a lousy team. These are comments that I could have excused if they had ever showed the same interest in the Team to begin with. Where were these people, politicians and fans who are now passing judgement, when we were playing Albania last year at the Olympic stadium? I did not see anyone! There were 2000 people in the stadium out of which 1500 were Albanians, and who on the top were burning the Greek flag. I think that the National Team is very underprivileged and I don't think anyone could pass judgement about it, even though the result was not what good. We do not even have a sponsor, we play with borrowed outfits, and overall there is no interest in the Team.

-Still, the result was very bad for us.

Yes the result was very bad, but all these reactions that personally surprised me, are unjustified. I did not expect them at all as I knew that no one was interested. Whatever our results were previously nobody showed any concern.

-Are the players dissatisfied with the management?

No we do not have any complains. They are doing their job and since this is their field they cannot be disinterested. Especially the last 2-3 years they are trying very much despite the lack of means. There is not even a training ground for the Team, but no politician has ever mentioned this subject. But when the team lost from Albania every politician had something to say!

-However, especially in the first half this team you are describing could have cleared the match.

When we are talking about the playing part we cannot talk about "ifs". It was simply a bad day for some players, something that is very normal to happen. Bad luck happens like the draw between the Tsech's and Malta, who are weaker than the Albanians. I cannot recall the Team to have so many chances in one half and not being able to score, apart maybe from the game against Belarus. It was simply a matter of not been able to score and when the Albanians scored we fell apart. I think this was the worst part.

-What role had the many absences from the team, including yours?

I believe we have so many good players for all positions that we cannot talk about absences. We cannot base the team in three or four people. There are 30 players that could have helped at any given time. The absences cannot be the alibi for a bad performance. The same team played against Finland and we won. We should not talk about certain people where the National team is concerned, but as a whole group of people.

-Yes but it is also a subject of choices...

I do not think that there is anyone who is underestimated. Of course I cannot judge on the fact of who was chosen and who was not. These are purely matters for the training team, and they will be criticised for this as well as for the results.


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232 Appearances in England (175 for Newcastle United, 18 for Leicester in the Premier League and 39 for Leicester in the Championship). Total League-Cup-Europe appearances 550. National Team appearances 70. Goals total 40.