Angelos Messaris

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Angelos Messaris

Angelos Messaris (1910-1978) was a Greek footballer. He played for Panathinaikos and he is widely regarded as the best Greek player of the pre-war era. This is probably also due to the myth that for decades followed his sudden and mysterious early leaving from football. He made his last appearance in the football field on 23 April 1931 at the age of 21, in a match against AEK Athens. Panathinaikos were losing 2-0 but Messaris tied the score with two reverse headers and he received great cheering. That was his last appearance. He never played football again.

Messaris was descended from people of Kefalonia, an island in the Ionian sea, but he was born in Cape Town of South Africa in 1910. In 1924, he came to Athens and after spending three years at the team of Goudi he was transferred to Panathinaikos. His dribbling skills, his perfect control together with his versatile mind and hard work in the football field elevated him to the top. During his short football career he scored 53 goals: 23 in the Athens FCA Championship, 11 in the Panhellenic Championship, 2 with the Greece national team (he played four times) and 17 in international and friendly games of Panathinaikos and the mixed team of Athens. He was first scorer in the 1929-30 season with 7 goals. At the legendary victory over Olympiakos with 8-2 he scored the first three goals and actually served three more. Another famous victory was that over Aris with 4-1 in Thessaloniki which called forth the following chant: "We scored eight against Olympiakos and four more against Aris - hooray Angelos Messaris!"

After giving up football, Messaris concentrated on his studies at the National Technical University of Athens. Then he returned to South Africa where he concluded his studies and following this he came back to Greece where he became an executive manager at the Doxiadis enterprises. It is said that the reason why he left Panathinaikos rests on the unbearable pressure Apostolos Nikolaidis was putting on him in order to persuade him to commit himself to football and forget about his studies at NTUA. In a short telephone talk that he had with journalist Dimitris Liberopoulos back in 1973 Messaris said: "Please leave me alone... The football player you are asking for died in 1931". He died in 1978 and his funeral was attended by thousands of people.

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