Monday, October 12, 2009

The third player went to Greece and two-folded story started with that.
Juan Ramon Veron – ‘La Bruja’, pictured with highly unusual transparent Panathinaikos jersey.
The Witch was a star player of the winning hooligans, Estudiantes (La Plata) before going to Greece. On one hand, he was part of the freshly invigorated European interest in South Americans and the general enlargement of players market. On the other – he represented big and intricate change in Greek football – he was the first major star to play for Greek club.
The background of the transfer was rather simple: after reaching the European Champions Cup final in 1971, Panathinaikos were determined to establish themselves as a big European club. And a big club needs big players, and big players are often foreign stars. After playing the Intercontinental Cup in 1971, South American stars were more or less obvious choice – the Greeks hardly had the means to buy European star and those from across the Atlantic Ocean were both famous and relatively cheap. The transfer of Veron is still understood as the first transfer of foreign player to Greece, a beginning of importation. This is wrong – Greece imported players since 1959, but in a very complicated way.
Alexander Mastrogiannopoulos prepared careful list of foreign players in Greece for the Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation, where he makes very important note: ‘Many of the Players listed, came as Greek's, or obtained the Citizenship later. Cypriots do not count as Foreigners, but are also listed.’ Greece did not officially allowed foreign players – when the ban was lifted, if it was lifted, is unknown to me. It was certainly valid by 1972, but foreigners of Greek ancestry were permitted to play – the familiar ‘oriundi’ rule. Between 1959 and 1972 players from Austria, Italy, Yugoslavia, France, but also Syria,Ethiopia, and even Turkey appeared in Greek clubs – who was really a diaspora Greek and who was not is impossible to tell. None was even remotely known player and in fact the only player with a name was the French Yves Triantafylos, who came to Panathinaikos’s archrival Olympiakos (Piraeus) from Saint Etienne in 1971. But Tryantafilos is is recognizable name only from a distance, in retrospect: he became top goalscorer in Greece, moved back to France and became part of the first phase of Saint Etienne, when the club was becoming strong, but not yet European power. Tryantafilos eventually was included in the French national team – and played 1 match with the blue shirt, but already as a Saint Etienne player. He had another stint in Greece nearly at the end of his career.
Bearded Tryantafilos starts for France against Hungary in 1974. One Stefan Kovacs was coaching France, after his success with Ajax. By the time Tryantafilos donned the blue French shirt, La Bruja was thinking of going home.