The veteran football player of AEK, Klimis Alexandrou, was invited to the 70th Retro tribute of the Super Sport FM 104.0 show, “Give Pass” with Stelios Papamoiseos.
What he said in detail:
How did he start playing football?: “I come from the province of Larnaca and until the age of 13-14 we played football, it was in the village fields and in our team. Mr. Pieris was my trainer and he told me to go to Pezoporikos. Because of the distance it was impossible, but because some things life brings in such a way, we moved from Mazotos to Larnaca and finally it was easier for me to go to the trainings. At the age of 16, I went to the A team, with Stavros Papadopoulos. It gave me the opportunity to compete in the first team. My debut was in the new GSP against Alki. I liked playing center forward, also because of the height. But when Mantzourakis came, he installed me in the position of stopper.
In the first practice he shouted at me. I thought he didn’t want me and I packed up and never went back to training. Mr. Lefkaritis came to find me at home and I hid under the bed in my room. They told my mother that they want me to go back to training, but I didn’t go for a month, with the excuse that I had to study. Mr. Dinos called me again and I went to training. The way he treated me was incredible. In front of my teammates, he made me feel bad, but after training he told me that from that moment on I will be the main stopper”.
“With Mantzourakis, I played both as a midfielder and as a midfielder. I had a lot of will at that time. I trained constantly, I had good lungs, I wanted to play football, I had good people by my side. In the national team I played center forward with Gogić and I finished with the game in Austria”.
What does he keep from his career at AEK?: “I played in AEK until 2002. Back then we couldn’t understand how important and what a blessing it is to play football. Since I stopped, I only remember the good times, no matter if I had a lot of injuries. I will not forget my appearances in all Nationals, the victory against Elpidon who beat Armenia 2-0 with two goals of my own, I will not forget the match against Barcelona, the victories against AEK, but above all, the cup final with APOEL, which unfortunately was my only chance to win a title with AEK. But I celebrated cups and successes with AEK as a sports fan.”
What was his most memorable game?: “What I remember in the early years, how in every game we played with Anorthosis, I always scored.”
Who did he work best with?: “At that time it had people like Christoforou, George Konstantinou and Angelos the Hatred. Like Neophytos Larkou. They, although I was smaller, were always by my side.”
How did you experience the unification?: “Our question was which players we would meet and who we would not be together with. However, these were unprecedented situations. We entered the stadium and heard from outside the people discussing why there is more green and less yellow, why more of the EPA and less of Pezoporikos play. It was very difficult for us, let alone for Lefkaritis and those who made this effort. Well done to those who tried and it’s very successful what they did.”
How did the transfer to APOEL come about?: “In 2002, Dinos Lefkaritis left AEK. Mitosevic took over as coach. We started the year, I had suffered a cruciate ligament tear and I came back in January, but the coach had instructed us to train with the second team, me and three or four other footballers. They told me that we cannot renew the contract because it was high. I told them I didn’t want to leave and they told me to stay with an 80% reduction in my contract. This is how APOEL’s proposal came about. I gave away all the money that AEK owed me and I met with Mr. Petridis and signed a contract. The day after the signing, in the first practice, I broke my finger. I stayed out for another six months and when I came back, the people of APOEL, with their right, said that I could not offer. So I made the decision to stop playing football in 2003, at the age of 29.”
What did he do when he finished playing football?: “When you graduate at 29, the university of life begins. I ended up having nothing at that age. With an AEK suitcase I went to America, alone. I had $100 in my pocket, I had some relatives there. I had accepted that I would be in an open prison for as many years as I needed to get up, fight and come back. I stayed there for eight years, I worked, I was humiliated, but I made it and came back.”
For his love for AEK: “When I was in America, 1-2 years before I returned, in the place where I worked, we were 5-6 Cypriots who were supported by all the teams. It was the time when APOEL and before that Anorthosis made the incredible qualifiers. When I saw where the fans of the teams went on trips, we really liked it. When I came to Cyprus, I wanted to do it myself. We formed a group and said that we would try to go on all the trips. Two games became three, three became ten, ten became thirty. AEK is my second home, I love this team pathologically. That’s why when AEK plays it’s a celebration. And to give a piece of advice to all the fans who don’t live this thing: It’s the best thing to go to the stadium and shout for your team, both in wins and in losses. I’m living the best period of my life.”
The top goal he scored: “What I won’t forget was a header from the top of the goal, against Brezaković of Paralimni. I also won’t forget my goal in the 2-2 draw in Tsirio against Apollon”.
Who did he have as his inspiration when he started?: “At that time I was watching the highlights of the English league and because I’m with Liverpool, I liked Ian Rush, Dalglish, the phenomenon Ronaldo later.”
Who was the toughest opponent?: “As a stopper, when we were playing with Anorthosis, I was saying, oh my God, not to mark Obikus. There were other players. When I was playing forward and I remember the defenders marking me back then, my ankles hurt. Marios Charalambous, Dimitris Ioannou, Spyros Kastanas, they were all beasts”.
For the phase in the Olympic Stadium of Barcelona: “The game was to be played at Camp Nou and we went to train, we did about 20 minutes and they took us out because there was training on the grass. Finally the match took place at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona. We were losing 1-0 at half time and around 55′ I went out alone with Vitor Baia. In that phase, I thought, “Klimis, you won’t get an opportunity like this again, you have to score” and I scored normally, but unfortunately Baia caught it”.
How does he see AEK this year?: “To be honest, it’s growing day by day. Those who don’t want to admit it, see something other than reality. We just have to see that he continues to come out in Europe and establish himself in the big teams. Another thing that is growing is the world of the team. The world woke up. The team has professionals. We know where we were, we don’t forget, but we also see where we are now. The league is very difficult. We see that two of the three teams that entered groups did not win in the premiere. But this cannot negate what he achieved.”