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Samaras
Season 2010/11

Aris v City: The Greek Connection

  • 14 February 2011 10:39
  • Posted by Tim Oscroft

City will break new ground when they visit the Kleanthis Vikelidis Stadium in Thessaloniki.

We have never faced Greek opposition before competitively (the Thomas Cook Trophy against Olympiacos in 2005 does not count!), so while we can’t look back how City have fared in that part of the world, there are one or two connections that are worth mentioning.

Georgios Samaras became City’s one, and so far only, Greek player when he joined the club in January 2006. The lanky striker was signed by Stuart Pearce from Heerenveen at the tail-end of the transfer window for a fee of around £6,000,000. He made a decent start, scoring his first goal for us in his third game and bagging both in a 2-1 win over Sunderland a couple of weeks later.

The Shaun Goater “feed the Goat” chant was quickly adapted to fit Samaras, but sadly he failed to make an impact in the long term. He fared better in a loan spell at Celtic, moving to Parkhead permanently in the summer of 2008.

Midfielder Gary Owen had left City for a while by the time he went to Greece later on in his playing career, spending a year with Panionios in the mid-1980s. Former Academy striker Ian Daly played a handful of games for Aris themselves in 2009 after leaving Platt Lane without having broken into City’s first team.

There is one vaguely familiar face on Aris’ books at the moment – Mexican midfielder Nery Castillo, who recently moved to Thessaloniki having had a nomadic existence since time at City in 2008.

Loaned to the club from Shaktar Donetsk, he struggled to cope with the rigours of English football, although he was unlucky to sustain a serious shoulder injury early on. Making just nine appearances, all while Sven-Goran Eriksson was manager, Castillo subsequently plied his trade with Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and Chicago Fire before moving to Aris a few weeks ago.

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