Apostolos Nikolaidis (athlete)

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For the singer, see Apostolos Nikolaidis (singer).
Apostolos Nikolaidis in 1919
During the '70s as president of Panathinaikos

Apostolos Nikolaidis (Greek: Απόστολος Νικολαΐδης, 1896 – 15 October 1980) was a Greek athlete, football manager and businessman. He was a leading board member and president of Panathinaikos.

Biography[edit]

He was born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. After his graduation from the Robert College in Istanbul, he moved to Athens in 1917 and joined the family of Panathinaikos. He was an athletic phenomenon, as he successfully competed in decathlon, football, basketball and volleyball. He was a member of the He was member of the Greek team of 1920 (in Antwerp), both as a football player and as a track athlete. He played football for more than ten years and contributed to all sports departments of PAO. He was also manager of the Greece national football team. He even became a successful racing driver.

In 1926-27 he was elected president of the Hellenic Football Federation whereas, after the German occupation (1945) and for a period of more than twenty years, he was president of the Hellenic Amateur Athletic Association. Moreover, he was president of the Automobile and Touring Club of Greece. For many decades, he was a board member of Panathinaikos and in 1974 he became president of the club. He was also the owner of Softex, a paper towel company.

Upon his death, as an honour, his coffin was carried on the shoulders of eight athletes from different PAO departments: Ikonomopoulos, Kamaras, Antoniadis (football), Zacharopoulos (track), Georgantis, Iliopoulos (volleyball), Garos, Kalogeropoulos (basketball). The home stadium of Panathinaikos at Alexandras Avenue was named after him in 1981, at a ceremony presided by the then Prime Minister Georgios Rallis.

Controversy[edit]

Although considered by most as the "Patriarch" of Panathinaikos, Nikolaidis is involved also in one of the biggest crises in the history of the club, the breakaway of 1931. While he was one of the leading board members of the club during the presidency of Nikolaos Xiros, he had a major dispute with Angelos Messaris, one of the best players of the team. The reasons of the dispute were not clear, but maybe was about Messaris wanting to study engineering at the National Technical University of Athens, while Nikolaidis did not want him to be involved in anything except football.

The bad situation led Messaris to quit football altogether, much to the dismay of a significant number of players and officials, who sided behind Stamatis Merkouris (son of Spyridon Merkouris, Athens' Mayor at the time), also member of the board. Merkouris challenged the team's authority, eventually leading to a poll. Xiros and Nikolaidis won by a small margin and the new board immediately ousted from Panathinaikos all those who stood against, including a figure with mythical proportions to PAO fans, the founder of the club Giorgos Kalafatis. Although many of them (including Kalafatis) joined the team again later, this action was never forgiven by a portion of the fans.