The history of AEK FC from the Asia Minor catastrophe until 2009.
Nikos Katsaros, Andreas Stamatiadis, Yannis Kanakis, Kostas Nestoridis, Mimis Papaioannou, Giorgos Karafeskos, Christos Sotirakopoulos, Lakis Nikolaou, Nikos Christidis, Takis Nicoloudis, Dusan Bajevic, Thomas Mavros, Stelios Manolas, Vassilis Dimitriadis and Vassilis Tsiartas.
Without doubt, one of the greatest episodes in the series.
The history of ΑΕΚ is very exciting. All the people associated with the club have an intrinsic feeling of injustice, but which is expressed with great dignity.
As if injustice is a well-known and established fact.
Everything that is supposed to be in the film is there. The film was made with great care.
From the 1922 Catastrophe to the great squad of Maropoulos, and the hard post-war years, to the incredible duo of Nestoridis and Papaioannou, to the teams of Csaknády and Stankovic, to the great victory over Inter Milan, in 1971, and, of course, to the extraordinary team of Barlos and Fadrhonc.
The main focus is put upon this last one. With great stories and gripping footage.
The narrative moves forward on to another hard period, which lasted until the appointment of Bajevic, as a coach this time, in 1988, and the formation of the second greatest team of AEK, which went on until 1996, with Dimitris Melissanidis as the key figure.
There were many unforgettable stories.
Yannis Kanakis, who is no longer alive, recounts the unbelievable incident of 1956. AEK was struggling during that period, but managed to get to the Greek Cup final against the almighty Olympiacos, in a game that took place in the stadium on Alexandras Avenue. Kanakis, with a kick between the middle line and the 9,15m line scored the winning goal and won the Cup for AEK.
When he left the stadium to get the bus (times were different then!), people along the way would hug him and put in his pockets whatever money they could spare, which was not a small deal in the devastated, post civil-war Athens; 2 cents, 50 cents, a dime, sometimes 50 drachmas or even 100. There was no bonus given back then, nor salaries and that was Kanakis bonus, coming straight from the grateful public.
The highlight of the episode was when, during his interview, Kanakis reached down and got a vintage lace-up leather ball. It was very old, faded and deflated. Back then, balls came with an inner tube. It was the ball of the victory goal.
I will never forget the great chapter about Fadrhonc’s squad and the road to the UEFA cup semifinals, in 1976-77.
Mimis Papaioannou is a great storyteller and has a natural and unique sense of humor. He had to shoot the penalty kick, in the match versus Queens Park Rangers. “...As I walked towards the line, I was so nervous, I got pins and needles all over my body. I said to myself, you are 35... what if you miss and disgrace yourself?...by the time I placed the ball on the mark, the pins and needles had already reached my head and started subsiding...I thought, to myself, pick and an angle and shoot...that was what I did...and I scored”.
Mavros and Bajevic shared very touching stories. The latter was very hard to get for interviews. But both of them were amazing. As was Christidis, one of the most self-composed and coherent athletes, the marvelous Lakis Nikolaou and Stelios Manolas.
Undoubtedly, the best part of the picture was the result of the greatest idea I had in this series.
I had thought of taking Nestoridis and Papaioannou to the demolished stadium of AEK, in Nea Philadelphia.
From the first time they got together, in 1962, they became an unforgettable duo. Their trademark, the famous “one-two”, was a smashing hit and they could find one another even with their eyes closed.
The stadium looked like it had been bombarded; grass everywhere and holes made by the excavators.
Nevertheless, the two aged aces gave life to the stadium. They would point toward a place, where all we could see was rubble or grass, and say, “...over there, on gate number ‘so and so’, ‘such and such’ took place”, then they would turn toward another abyss and they relived and talked to us about another memorable incident...”
Nothing was staged; there was genuine and great emotion. They went ad-lib and we filmed them.
We had brought one of those vintage brown balls with the panels. The two former aces played “one-two” again. Nestoridis kicked the ball hard between the dry grass. He then turned around, put his arms around Mimis and said “...a new stadium...here in Nea Philadelphia...it is going to happen...I just know it...”. That was the finale of the picture. What Nestoridis wished for, in the distant 2009, is going to come true...