Interview: Dimitris Papadopoulos: The past and the future of European champion 2004

European Champion with National Greece in 2004. Double owner in the same year in Greece with Panathinaikos. Croatian Champion with Dinamo Zagreb in 2010. Ladies and Gentlemen, Dimitris Papadopoulos reveals in a great interview at
“I was born in Uzbekistan, in the village of Yuri Gagarin (the first astronaut to fly around the Earth). I remember playing a ball in the square of the area, “says Dimitris Papadopoulos.
– How did you get out of Uzbekistan?
“It was a difficult situation. In 1989, when Perestroika became a member of Gorbachev, things became worse. So we had to return to Greece, the whole family. My grandfather, my grandmother, my father (Paul), my mother (Mary) and my three sisters (Zenovia, Alexandra, Kerasia). “
– At that time, were you playing football?
“I liked and always played with the older ones. I was playing in the school championship. In fact, on the last day we were leaving, there was a tournament and the teachers, and others had calculated me for the attack, thinking I would fight. Of course, this was not the case as the return journey began. The trip lasted for a week. We passed from Turkey, Thrace, Thessaloniki and ended up with relatives in Athens. Moments extremely difficult “.
– In Greece how did you start playing football?
“I started searching for academies myself. So I played in Ano Liossia and Akratitos, who at that time promoted 5 players to the first team. Akratitos then competed in the 4th National and coached Yannis Pathiakakis. Of all, then I only basically continued and worked. “
– What was next?
“I played D ‘, C’, B ‘national, but there was no suggestion from a group of A’ national that was satisfactory. I decided to go to England, to Burnley, who had submitted me a very good proposal. Of course I have to say that at first , things were not rosy . Another preparation there, quite different and much tougher. Clean professional. Then the language. I clamped the teeth. I blazed because I wanted to play and I did it. I improved a lot in the 2 years I stayed there. The world loved me, liked me. At the same time I had passed through all the national Children, Youth, Hope. Then the proposals were enough. Panathinaikos showed that he wanted me more and I went back to Greece. I played 5 years in the green. In 2004 I would say that was my best year. We got the double. I became a top player in the championship and of course we won the European Championship with national Greece. Unbelievable, magical moments.  Unforgettable year. But it is true that I did not rest at all. The following year I was unlucky. I was so traumatized and stayed behind .. “
European trip
 Tell us about the continuation of your career, which was essentially a major trip to several European teams …
 “Indeed for four years I have played in several teams in Europe. In Italian, Lecce, Croatian, Dinamo Zagreb. The Spanish, Celta where I stayed for 2 years. Then I returned again to Greece. I played in Panthrakikos, Atromitos and PAOK. And then in Asteras Tripolis  and Panaitolikos . For 2 consecutive seasons I became a better footballer. I think we’ve done a lot … “
The next day
– What is the next day for Dimitris?
“At first I love and I want to stay at my place (soccer). So I decided and I’m studying Sports Management, an UEFA program for former footballers, which makes technical managers. I went to Switzerland first, and now I was in Spain.  I think there must be a long plan to go ahead with our country’s football. “
– How do you see things now that you are in another part of football?
“It’s a new effort, another part to manage, another to play. But I like it and I will give my best. “
– In a few days on June 14 starts the World Cup, are there any favorites?
“Favorites  I do not see. On the contrary, I think we will have surprises. Maybe Belgium or Croatia reach high enough. Beyond that, we know the potential and aura of Spain. Its footballers have quality and self-confidence. Messi has one last chance to lead Argentina to conquer a World Cup. If it does not succeed now, after 2022 things will be difficult because he will be 34. The Germans remain a great force, just like the Brazilians … “
World clubs
–   As things show in 2021 we will have the expansion of the current World Cup clubs from 7 to 24 teams. What do you expect to happen?
“The teams in this case should have at least 30 players. We just have to see how the plan will work. Of course, financial is important and plays its part. “
– In 2022 the World Cup will be held in Qatar.
“It opens a new big market. Football will grow a lot. It’s very good for Asia. “
– Four years later, in 2026 we will have the first world cup with the participation of 48 teams …
“It’s kind of like the European Championship we saw in France with 24 teams (SS of 16). It was totally successful. Soccer schools are now quite equivalent and balanced. Greater competition. We saw Iceland, Wales in the European, who might not go if things were different. So I think so the same  will be in 2026 “.
Greek football
– What should be done to get better  in Greek football?
“The future is Greek children. From there we have to start. We need to change mindset. To have a new education … “