SPORTS

Mimis Domazos is voted the most outstanding soccer player

Retired soccer legend Mimis Domazos, who spent most of his career with Panathinaikos before transferring to AEK, has topped a sportswriters’ poll as the country’s most outstanding soccer player over the past 50 years. Fans who were fortunate enough to capture the player in full flight during the 1960s and 1970s would certainly agree with the poll’s result. Domazos, a creative and highly motivated attacking midfielder, dazzled both as an individual endowed with rare skill and a team leader capable of lifting an entire side when it was down. A consistent player throughout his two-decade-long career, Domazos had transferred from Panathinaikos to AEK toward the latter stages of his career over differences with the former’s administration. [Domazos had begun playing top-level competition in 1959 after Panathinaikos’s talent scouts spotted the youngster playing with a lowly local side, Amyna Ambelokipon. The transfer fee was worth 13 drachmas – a trivial, mostly symbolic, fee, even for its time – plus a bottle of orange pop as the player’s signing bonus!] Domazos was a key player for the national side but was never fortunate enough to play in a World Cup final event to showcase his exceptional talent to fans abroad. He did, however, lead Panathinaikos to 1971’s European Cup final, an encounter which his side lost, 2-1, to Ajax Amsterdam. To mark that event’s 30th anniversary, veteran players of both clubs regrouped earlier this year for a friendly replay in Amsterdam. The Greek club won, 1-0, with Domazos as the clash’s sole scorer. Had the player been at his prime today, in an era characterized by far more frequent international competition as a way of increasing soccer’s marketability, Domazos would probably be wearing the jersey of a European soccer giant, of the the caliber of Juventus or Real Madrid. Without a doubt, various other outstanding contemporaries, such as Giorgos Sideris, Takis Loukanidis, Mimis Papaioannou, Giorgos Koudas, and Costas Nestoridis, had also graced Greece’s pitches. But Domazos stood out because he endured longest and was endowed with the myriad of qualities that make a team leader. A keen participant of charity all-star games featuring retired veterans, Domazos, now 59, reminds us of the typical generosity that characterizes him as a person. But, above all, his willingness to keep playing at a relatively advancing age reflects this man’s undiminished love for soccer. Before the premiere, music scholar Nikos A. Dontas will deliver a lecture on the significance of Verdi’s work Attila at the Olympia Theater foyer at 1 p.m.