Just as Theseus had killed the Minotaur and driven the Athenians out of the labyrinth, Manolas finished his Roma career out of its own burrowing labyrinth. Killing the frailties of years.
After five solid years with the Romans, 2018 turned out to be somewhat of a champion year for Manolas. He was responsible for being the impetus of Eusebio Di Francesco’s defense – the Greek god who axed Barcelona Champions League dream and send AS Roma to the semi-finals of Europe’s elite competition for the first since 1984, the solid defender with the speed of an Olympic runner, the commanding Greek god of the Roman backline.
The Greek international now ply his trade with Napoli in the Seria A, but before Napoli, there were other clubs he donned their jersey, as such Manolas started his youth career back in Greece with Thrasyvoulos in 2007, and started playing professionally with AEK Athens when he was scouted by then manager Dusan Bajevic and the technical director of the team who ironically happened to be his uncle.
In the 2010-11 season, Manolas became a key figure of the AEK team, and also played an important role in the Superleague, Europa league which exposed him more to top European teams, following his impressive display in the Europa League, in subsequent matches he also performed well which went on to convinced then AEK manager Manolo Jimenez who dimmed him fit for a starting line up.
During his stint with AEK, he developed massively playing alongside the club legend Traianos Dallas, who Manolas eulogized that
“it was an honor to play alongside him, that his experience helped him to become confident on the ball and the decisions he made in the game”.
Manolas didn’t just don the “Yellow & Black‘ of AEK, he also won the Greek Cup with them, playing 36 matches and scored three goals in that season.
In 2011-12 he signed a three-year contract extension with AEK, which kept him at the club until 2014, which at that time top European clubs were already trying to secure his service, he later left for Olympiacos one of the biggest team in the Greek super league for free in 2016, having served AEK painstakingly with over 86 appearances and six goals in all competitions.
He made his debut against PAS Giannina in a 1-2 away win, thereafter he scored his first goal for Olympiacos against Skoda Xanthi in a 4-0 home triumph, and in his first season with the Greek giant he made 24 appearances and also won the league, he won the Greek Cup against Asteras Tripoli to clinched a double for that season.
His stint with the Greek giant was quite successful, despite extending his contract with the Erythrolefki for another year to keep him at the club till the summer of 2017, he eventually left for Roma with his head high in 2014 having made 73 appearances, scored six goals and two assists in all competitions for Olympiacos.
Manolas Roma’s Stint
Manolas made his debut for the Giallorossi against Fiorentina in a 2-1 win in the opening game of 2014-15 Seria A season, and ever since he made his debut for Roma he was a mainstay defender for them up until he left the Giallorossi for Napoli, but the performance that is still very fresh in the memories of the Giallorossi fans was his goal against Barcelona in the champions league.
Manolas and the entire Roma team achieved something extraordinary, defying the odds on a wild night at the Stadio Olimpico by overhauling a 4-1 deficit to Barcelona, it was his one glance header in 82nd minute that got the local fans celebrating as if they just won the champions league for peeping Barcelona into the semi-final of champions league for the first time since 1984.
Barcelona would have thought they will have it sweet just as they did against PSG when they stunned the French giant in the round of 16, despite losing 4-0 in the first leg, crazy you would say right?
Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t awaken that spirit, and the truth is that the Calatan deserved to exit the competition, thanks to Manolas and also Daniele De Rossi, even though the goals scored in the first leg left Roma with a huge mountain to climb, but then they responded well in the second leg with the goal from a god from Greece.
The dramatic and incredible champions league comeback requires a poetic commentator to bring it to life for viewers at home, fortunately, Peter Drury was lucky on the night.
‘Roma have risen from their ruins!
‘Manolas, the Greek God in Rome.
‘The unthinkable unfolds before our eyes.
‘This was not meant to happen, this could not happen, this is happening!
‘Barcelona, extraordinarily, (are) eight minutes from elimination.
‘(Roma boss Eusebio) Di Francesco does not know where to go, (Andres) Iniesta does not know where to look.
‘It’s a Greek from Mount Olympus, who has come to the Seven Hills of Rome and pulled off a miracle!
The poetic commentary after Manolas scored Roma’s third goal has gone down in football history with many football aficionados claiming it as one of the best art of commentary ever broadcast.
In an interview with a Greek media outlet, Manolas revealed that during the game he had a premonition that he might be the one to score the winner, and the goal itself came about thanks to an astute observation from Manolas.
He went further to say, “before the game in the locker room there were some who believed in the comeback, but he himself didn’t believe it after they scored the second goal in the 79th minutes they stood in the middle of the pitch and he turned to his defensive partner Federico Fazio, and said to him we’re going to score and you or I will be the one to do it”.
Manolas found his way into the heart of the Giallorossi with that glancing header from a Cengiz Under corner on that faithful night at the Stadio Olimpico which will go down in the history of Roma, more so with the way and manner, he scored that goal on that faithful night.
Though it may look logical to you, then it’s only a god can think of what he remembered before Cengiz Under took the corner “When Under went to take the corner, I remembered that the first one he took did not make it beyond the near post”.
“I knew it would come in a bit low. So that’s why I made that run. I knew his ball would be a bit short into the near post. I usually never make my run to the near post. But that time I did, I got my head on it and the ball sailed in.”
After the match he was praised by the Italian fans, most especially the Roma fans as incomparable, and for Manolas that night triumph against the Calatan will remain his best moment in the Giallorossi jersey. The Greek defender has established himself as a fans’ favorite since joining Roma and will forever be remained popular with the club’s supporters.
Fans singing "Grazie Roma" post match. Kostas Manolas in tears. He's instantly become a hero here. Amazing scenes. (via @PremiumSportH) pic.twitter.com/dDlLOCH8Sn
— CalcioASRoma (@CalcioASRoma) April 10, 2018
The Roma fans were ecstatic, and launched into a rendition of ‘Grazie Roma’. Manolas, upon hearing the chant, found it difficult to hide his emotions and was seen crying.
Super League: Respect & Dialogue Needed To Restore Normality
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, disapproving the concept of Super League
President Gianni Infantino has called for respect and dialogue as he expressed FIFA’s strong disapproval of the proposed European Superleague project, and has requested that the concerned parties consider their position in line with respecting the institutions that exist to protect the interest of national, European, and global football.
“FIFA is an organization which is built on values, the true values of sport,” said the FIFA President in his address to the 45th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Montreux, Switzerland.
“It is an organization that is built on our statutes, the statutes that define the institutional framework, with the pyramid, with FIFA, the confederations, the associations, the leagues, the clubs, the players. And at FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove of the creation of a super league which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA, which is outside of the system. There is no doubt whatsoever of FIFA’s disapproval for this.”
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, and a model that he promoted in his 16 years at UEFA:
“FIFA is here, and I am here today as FIFA President, to bring full support to European football, to UEFA, and the 55 member associations of UEFA and of FIFA, to the leagues, clubs, players, and to fans. To all the fans, all over Europe, and actually all over the world as well.”
“We can see that there is a lot to throw away for the short-term financial gain of some,” the FIFA President added. “People need to think very carefully, they need to reflect, and they need to assume responsibility. They need to think not only of their shareholders, but they need to think about all the people, of all the fans, of all those who have contributed to making European football what it is today. It goes back not only decades, it goes back more than one hundred years. People – with love, with passion, with commitment – have created all this. And we need to protect this. It is our task.”
“FIFA is a democratic organization, an organization that is open,” the FIFA President concluded. “Everyone can bring ideas and proposals, but always with respect for the institutions, leagues, associations, UEFA, and FIFA.
With respect for the history and with the respect for the passion of so many people around the world. I understand as well that on these particular days, emotions are very high, but we need to always keep the line. Football is hope, and it is our responsibility to make hope a reality. So we hope that everything will go back to normal and that everything will be settled, but always with acting responsibly, with respect, with solidarity, and always in the interest of national, European, and global football.”
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere
The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.
The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.
Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues
Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.
Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.
He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.
The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.
In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.
Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.
Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”
- Iago Aspas
Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.
After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.
At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.
In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.
- Diego Forlan
Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.
Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.
In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.
The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.
With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.
Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.
Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.
There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.
These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.