Controversial star player resigns from troubled AEK

AEK soccer player Grigoris Georgatos, one of the team’s star members, added a further controversial chapter to his fiery career yesterday by announcing his resignation from the club. An official announcement was expected to be made by the club late last night. Georgatos, who joined AEK in the summer of 2002, was on a three-year contract with a one-year renewal option. But it remained unclear what the free-roaming left back’s next move would be. Recent reports had speculated over a possible return to Olympiakos where Georgatos established his fame before successfully transferring to Italian powerhouse Inter Milan. Yesterday, however, reports suggested that the player was interested in moving to either a German or Spanish club. The first solid signs of Georgatos’s impending end at AEK – a preseason title favorite that has fallen eight points behind frontrunner Olympiakos, just ahead of the league’s half-way mark – emerged a little over a month ago when the player declared himself unavailable for selection, citing personal reasons. Throughout his career, Georgatos, now 31, has proven a demanding task for coaches, and has been unpredictable in his actions. Several seasons ago, while enjoying a successful career with Inter Milan in the Italian league, one of Europe’s most highly regarded, Georgatos announced that he was homesick before returning to Olympiakos and then swiftly retransferring to the same Italian club. More recently, the national team’s coach Otto Rehhagel, seeking to inject discipline into a troubled and slack squad he had just taken over, ousted Georgatos after the player refused to play a position allotted by the German coach. In other developments yesterday at AEK, a municipal board rejected the club’s proposal for a new stadium with a 12-6 vote. Greece’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, is expected to deliver a final verdict on the case tomorrow. The Nea Philadelphia Municipality, in the capital’s north, has long opposed the club’s plans for a new venue in place of the recently demolished Nikos Goumas stadium, citing concern over the prospective project’s environmental and commercial impact on the area. The stadium, whose ambitious plans include a shopping complex and conference center, Mayor Nikos Adamopoulos has consistently argued, would generate increased local traffic that exceeds the capacity of existing road infrastructure, threaten local businesses, and bite a chunk out of an adjacent park. Last week, a demonstration by some 500 AEK fans outside the town hall ended violently when a smaller group of hooded individuals threw stones at the building and set fire to garbage bins. Arrests were made after riot police intervened.