SPORTS

Salpigidis returning to PAOK

PAOK has announced that striker Dimitris Salpigidis, currently on World Cup duty with the natonal team, is returning to the Thessaloniki club after four years at Panathinaikos. PAOK, which has qualified for next season’s Champions League for only the second time in its history, announced on the club’s official website yesterday that Salpigidis has signed a four-year deal. He joins on a free transfer after seeing out his contract at Panathinaikos. The 28-year-old won the league-and-cup double with the Greens this season and made 174 appearances during his time with the Athens club after signing a contract for 1.8 million euros, which was then a record fee for the transfer of a Greek player between two local clubs. Salpigidis scored 56 goals for Panathinaikos. «Some people have called me crazy for turning down some of the offers I received to return to PAOK,» he said in a statement. «But I’m certain I’ve made the best decision for my career and I have great ambition and desire to offer whatever I can to the team.» Salpigidis started his career at PAOK in 1999 and made more than 100 appearances for the club, where he became a goal-scoring hero, before moving to Athens. His transfer provoked the anger of many PAOK fans and in his statement the striker sought to appease the club’s hardcore supporters, who have never forgiven him for leaving Thessaloniki. «I know some people want to hear me say sorry, which would be easy to do but does not compare to real actions,» he said. «I would be pleased if people judge me on what I do on the pitch and what I offer to the team.» Earlier this week, PAOK announced that Italian coach Mario Beretta would be taking over at the Thessaloniki club.