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Theodoros_Zagorakis

Theodoros Zagorakis

Theodoros "Thodoris" Zagorakis (Θεόδωρος "Θοδωρής" Ζαγοράκης, born October 27, 1971 in Kavala) is a retired Greek footballer and was the captain of the Greece national football team that won the 2004 UEFA European Football Championship. He is the current president of PAOK Thessaloniki F.C..

Club career

A gritty but stylish defensive midfielder, Zagorakis started his career with Kavala FC and soon attracted the attention of the big teams in the Greek league for his combative and dominant play in the midfield. Eventually, he fulfilled his dream of playing for PAOK Thessaloniki F.C. (as he was a fan of the team from early age) in the winter transfer window of the 1992-93 season. He stayed with PAOK until December 1997, eventually becoming captain and the team's most valuable asset, thus attracting a lot of attention from foreign clubs, in a time where very few Greek players moved abroad. His departure was strongly felt among club loyals at his last match in PAOK's shirt (away against Skoda Xanthi).

Zagorakis left in another winter transfer window to Leicester City. While in England, he took part in two consecutive League Cup finals at Wembley Stadium, losing the first against Tottenham Hotspur in 1999 and defeating Tranmere Rovers in the second. Nevertheless, he was disappointed with Martin O'Neill's reluctance to use him regularly while also finding it difficult to settle in the cold and cloudy weather of the country and, after only two seasons, decided to return to Greece.

Zagorakis first tried to cut a deal with PAOK but the team's coach at the time Dusan Bajevic declined having him on the team. AEK Athens proved to be his next football destination and being sided with a handful of good players, he helped them win the Greek Cup in 2002. On July 14, 2004, due to the long going and rapidly growing team's economic problems and in the middle of the frenzy that his performances caused in the stunning national team's win in Euro 2004 he left AEK for Bologna, signing a two-year contract worth €1.5m per year.

In Serie A's season, Zagorakis was a regular feature in the team's squad but the team - having been in decline long before his arrival - found itself relegated to Serie B after a breathtaking play-out series against Parma FC. In the following summer he was released from the team as they couldn't afford his payroll under the new conditions.

Zagorakis eventually signed a 2-year contract with PAOK, in a highly emotional move, as Shakhtar Donetsk was hot in his pursuit, offering almost €2m a year. Surprisingly enough he chose PAOK, a team that was highly in debt, thus only being able to offer him a contract of just €650,000 a year. When Zagorakis landed at Makedonia Airport in Thessaloniki, 7000 supporters were there to welcome him back.

On May 28, 2007, after the fifth Greek Superleague All-Star Game, Zagorakis announced his retirement from professional football. He subsequently became PAOK's president, on June 18. In his unifying first statement he stated: "The leading factor as far as the PAOK power is concerned is its supporters, its fans (...), i would have not made this decision (to retire as a football player and to take over PAOK as president) if i did not love my team. The situation for PAOK is very difficult and i will not try to hide its problems, in contrast to that i will try to solve all the financial issues with all my strength - If i do not succeed in a month's deadline i will quit".

International career

Zagorakis received his first cap for Greece on September 7 1994, against the Faroe Islands. He scored his first goal against Denmark in 2006 World Cup qualifying, in Athens, while earning his 101st cap. Zagorakis is Greece's all-time leader in internationals played with 120, earning his 100th against Kazakhstan on November 17, 2004.

Zagorakis played an important role in Greece's triumph in the 2004 European Championships, and was named the Player of the Tournament by UEFA. Recognition from the footballing world did not stop there: as a result of his remarkable year as captain of the Greek national team, FIFA named Zagorakis as a contender for the 2004 FIFA World Player of the Year award (he finished in 17th place). He holds the record of most consecutive matches (57) (except one in 2006 because of injury) of the national team (due to either injury or not selection) since his first cap in a period of 12 years.

After fourteen full playing years as the Greek team's leader, Zagorakis announced his retirement from international football on October 5, 2006. On August 22, 2007, however, he played for the last time with the national side, in a special friendly match against Spain in Toumba Stadium, Salonica. He played for about 15 minutes and was then replaced by Giannis Goumas.

Personal life

  • Zagorakis is married to famous Greek model Ioanna Lili. They have a daughter named Maria.
  • He wore number 7 for both the national team and clubs.
  • He was featured on the cover of the Greek edition of FIFA 2001.

Career statistics

|- |1988-89||rowspan="5"|Kavala||||8||2|||||||||||||||| |- |1989-90||||38||2|||||||||||||||| |- |1990-91||||28||0|||||||||||||||| |- |1991-92||||32||2|||||||||||||||| |- |1992-93||||8||0|||||||||||||||| |- |1992-93||rowspan="6"|PAOK||rowspan="6"|Super League|||20||2|||||||||||||||| |- |1993-94||30||0|||||||||||||||| |- |1994-95||31||4|||||||||||||||| |- |1995-96||27||0|||||||||||||||| |- |1996-97||32||2|||||||||||||||| |- |1997-98||15||2|||||||||||||||| |- |1997-98||rowspan="3"|Leicester City||rowspan="3"|Premier League||14||1|||||||||||||||| |- |1998-99||19||1|||||||||||||||| |- |1999-00||17||1|||||||||||||||| |- |2000-01||rowspan="4"|AEK Athens||rowspan="4"|Super League||23||1|||||||||||||||| |- |2001-02||26||3|||||||||||||||| |- |2002-03||25||0|||||||||||||||| |- |2003-04||27||0|||||||||||||||| |- |2004-05||Bologna||Serie A||32||0|||||||||||||||| |- |2005-06||rowspan="2"|PAOK||rowspan="2"|Super League||22||0|||||||||||||||| |- |2006-07||23||0||||||||||||||||415||20||||||||||||||||50||3||||||||||||||||32||0||||||||||||||||497||23|||||||||||||||| |}

Honours

Leicester City

AEK Athens

Greece

Individual

External links

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