Vryzas transfers to Xanthi

Zissis Vryzas, one of the national team’s Euro 2004 heroes in Portugal, has returned to Xanthi, an emerging provincial power in Greek soccer where he began his domestic big-league career in the 1991-92 season. The 33-year-old player signed a two-year contract with Xanthi, the club announced yesterday. Vryzas has played abroad, mostly in Italy, since 2000. He spent five seasons with Xanthi before moving on to PAOK, in 1996-97 for four seasons. Vryzas moved abroad to Italy in 2000 for four seasons in the country’s leading Serie A competition with Peruggia before spending a season in the country’s Serie B with Fiorentina in the 2003-04 season. With Vryzas amid its ranks, Fiorentina was promoted to the top division. In the 2004-05 season, Vryzas switched to Spanish second-division club Celta Vigo, helping the side get promoted to the top division. He spent last season with Torino. The news of the player’s return to Greece was greeted with enthusiasm by Xanthi fans. Season ticket sales at the club are expected to benefit. One of coach Otto Rehhagel’s regular starters at the Euro 2004 competition in Portugal, Vryzas scored just once in the national team’s six-game campaign. But the striker’s solitary goal, against Russia in the group stage, secured Greece its quarterfinal spot. During his first five-year tenure with Xanthi, Vryzas scored 31 goals in 122 matches. In other transfer news, Vassilis Tsiartas, Vryzas’s Greece teammate at Euro 2004, who is currently without a club, said yesterday that he had contacted two first-division clubs, Panathinaikos and Iraklis, about possibly joining either club. The stylish 34-year-old, known for his pin-point, long-range delivery with the left foot, spent last season without a club. Deep into the 2004-05 season, Tsiartas reached a deal for the remainder of the season with German team Cologne, but injury sidelined him. Vryzas disclosed his contacts with Panathinaikos and Iraklis during an interview yesterday marking the second anniversary of Greece’s triumph in Portugal.