SPORTS

Soccer great passes away

Old-time soccer great Yiannis Kyrastas, who played with the country’s biggest clubs, Olympiakos and Panathinaikos, during his noteworthy career, and, more recently, also coached the latter, died yesterday after succumbing to a rare form of blood poisoning. The 53-year old Kyrastas was hospitalized in Athens on March 5 with an acute case of septicemia. During his time in intensive care, admirers responded overwhelmingly to public requests by doctors for urgently needed blood donations. The Piraeus-born Kyrastas, who built one of the country’s finest soccer reputations playing in defense as a right back, one of the sport’s less flamboyant positions, gradually worked his way through port city Olympiakos’s junior ranks to make his debut with the seniors in 1972. Kyrastas remained with Olympiakos where he filled the captain’s role for several seasons, until 1981, before transferring to archrival Panathinaikos. He was one of the first players to make such a move. Kyrastas, who retired midway through the 1986-87 season, also represented the national team on 46 occasions after debuting late in 1974 against Cyprus. He was a member of the national team that qualified for 1980’s European Championships in Italy, Greece’s first ever triumph in international soccer. Kyrastas is survived by his wife and two daughters. Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.