Marinakis at the Heart of Olympiacos' Historic European Victory Celebrations

Olympiacos Evangelos Marinakis

Olympiacos' triumphant celebrations after their historic win in the Europa Conference League against Fiorentina.

Greece’s most popular football team Olympiacos, owned by Greek shipping magnate and investor Evangelos Marinakis, made history on Wedenesday night by becoming the first Greek team to win a European trophy. The celebrations in Athens were filled with jubilation and pride as the team achieved this remarkable feat.

Olympiacos secured their 1-0 win over Fiorentina after extra time in the stadium of their rivals, AEK Athens. The triumph marked a momentous night for Greek football, with Marinakis at the heart of the celebrations, symbolising a night of unity and historic achievement for Olympiacos and Greece.

Olympiacos president Marinakis, who also owns English football club Nottingham Forest, was at the centre of the festivities. A touching scene from the first moments of victory shows Marinakis embracing a disabled youngster, Giannis Papastefanakis. This 14-year-old boy, who faces mobility challenges and uses a wheelchair, has formed a special bond with Marinakis and the Olympiacos team in recent weeks.

Despite being a fan of rival team PAOK, Giannis was personally invited by Marinakis to attend the final. After the game, he joined the victory lap with the Olympiacos players, creating unforgettable memories. Marinakis even gifted Giannis an Olympiacos shirt, displaying a unity and joy that transcended team rivalries.

After the victory, Marinakis addressed the supporters, saying, "Today a crazy dream has become a reality for our Olympiacos, for Piraeus, for Greece. We are particularly happy and proud for the people of Olympiacos. In our 99-year history, the people of Olympiacos have dreamt of a European title.

Since I was young and traveled, I have memories of seeing kids who had come from all over the world, leaving sad, crying over some unlucky moments, some bad moments, whether it was in Italy, Athens, Piraeus, the Olympic Stadium, England, Spain. When I took over Olympiacos, because you can’t say ‘when I bought Olympiacos’… Olympiacos can’t be bought, it’s something huge, it’s an idea. So, when I got involved with Olympiacos, my dream was to see those kids happy. Because they deserve it for all these trips, for all these moments. And to make a great European run.

Today, therefore, it is not a crazy dream, it is a reality. Here in Greece, on Greek soil. I want to say that we had good hospitality in Nea Filadelfeia from everyone, and I want to thank them for that. Today, all of Greece will celebrate; it was something we owed to all Greeks, to the kids who have passed away, to my father above all, to Savvas Theodoridis, to Gate 7, to those kids. The Cup will go to the Municipal Theater. It will go there and tomorrow to my father and Savvas, they deserve it. These are moments of great joy, and we continue not just to dream but to climb high.

It is a collective vindication, and we are lucky because vindication is a dish usually served cold. Today we ate it warm, and we are all here, moved, and moving forward.

We are starting a golden era. The next could be the Europa League, and you saw what our Youth did, whom I have repeatedly said are not youth. Because they are 18-19 years old and playing for their first teams. The teams our Youth beat had players in their first teams, like Inter, for example, in Italy. AC Milan, Bayern Munich. We are happy for these kids who showed their talent and won the Youth League, the Youth Champions League. And, truly, I am particularly happy to see these Greek kids progressing. We are by their side, to support them and to continue to excel.

I had dreamed of this moment. I told the captains, I told the coach, and all the people who are with me daily and work hard for what you saw today, for this success. I said the following: We all need to focus, not think of anything else but victory. There is nothing else. If you focus on and desire something very much, and believe in it, you will do it and be successful. They heard it, and I had told it to the Youth two rounds before. They know they could do it, and when you reach a final and have beaten great teams, Champions League teams, you know you can do it, and it is not a dream. It is a reality that you must pay attention to the last detail to achieve it.

Today, we would never lose, especially in Greece. I was sure, and I had to convey this to our partners, to the players. You saw the result, and we are all particularly happy and moved, and you see what is happening in Piraeus, all over Greece, and all over the world. We are having a total blast right now in America, Germany, Australia, England. This wonderful world deserved it; are there 3, 4, 5 million all over Greece? Are there 1-2 million all over the world? Today, however, it is not only them who are happy but all Greeks worldwide, because we did this for all of Greece. We had the aura of all Greeks. And we did this on our own, without help. Not only without help, but also against many. It doesn’t matter to expand on this today; we celebrate, and we all celebrate united, all of Greece.

What all Greeks should understand is that Olympiacos today made the beginning. Usually, people remember the last one, meaning the one who won it now. We made a start, and this is important for the country because I am sure that in the years to come, other teams will achieve it too. The next dream is a Europa League. We can’t repeat it with the Conference League next year, because the system has changed, and we will play in the Europa League. Bilbao is very nice there because it is a welcoming city. Ernesto Valverde is there; he was here with us now, celebrating as a passionate Olympiacos fan. He is a friend of mine, and I hold him dear. Above all, he is a person and an excellent coach, one of the best coaches in the world.

Long live Greece, long live Olympiacos, long live our Piraeus”.

Read also: The Alchemist: Iordanes Spyridon Gogos at AFW ‘24

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