||This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (November 2013)|
|Date of birth||23 November 1946|
|Place of birth||Ayios Pavlos, Thessaloniki, Greece|
|Playing position||Attacking Midfielder|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
Giorgos Koudas (Greek: Γιώργος Κούδας) is a retired attacking football midfielder. Nicknamed Μεγαλέξανδρος (Alexander the Great) of Greek football, he is considered one of the best Greeks ever to play the game, and the last of a marvelous generation, including Mimis Domazos, Thomas Mavros and others.
Koudas was a virtuoso of the ball, but possessed great speed and tactical awareness as well. Although he started his career as a right winger, it was the arrival of manager Les Shannon that brought him to the attacking midfielder role, from which he would later establish his legend.
Koudas was brought to PAOK in 1958 as a youngster, joining the club's academy. In 1963, at age 17, he made his debut for the 1st team. In the 3 years to follow Koudas amazed crowds at Toumba stadium with his elaborate dribbling, crossing and speedy runs on the flanks. His performances impressed not only fans but other clubs as well, making both Olympiakos and Panathinaikos interested in acquiring him.
The transfer to Olympiakos
After much courting by Olympiakos, it was made public in June 1966 that Koudas had agreed on a contract with the Piraeus club. It was something he later regretted, stating that "I did not fully understand the love that the people had for me at that time. I was young, born into a poor family, and I was thrilled by the prospect of moving to a better life Athens and earning so much money."
At that time, football in Greece was not fully professional, and thus contracts were signed on very loose terms. Once Koudas and his family had agreed to move to Piraeus, it simply was up to PAOK to agree to the transfer, which is still a subject of debate as to how the decision was taken. To this day, it is unclear whether the player was truly "abducted" from PAOK - as was said at the time in Thessaloniki - or if it was a legitimate transfer, that was shrouded as an illegitimate approach to the player and his family, to avoid public outrage. Nevertheless, on 16 August 1966 Koudas made his debut with Olympiakos in a friendly match.
Less than a year later, however, the Greek Junta came to power, and Costas Aslanidis was appointed as General Secretary of Sports. Through his various public opinion "pacification" initiatives, he largely controlled transfers between big clubs. After Koudas was drafted for military service in 1966-1968, he was forced to return to PAOK, which virtually forbade him to play for Olympiakos, apart from training and friendly matches. This bizarrre order was owing mostly to the extreme public outrage in northern Greece, that accompanied the Koudas transfer, but also due to the intervention of the PAOK president Giogros Pantelakis.
Despite Koudas' return to Thessaloniki, the circumstances of the transfer spawned a fierce animosity towards Olympiakos, which continues to this day, often presented in parallel to the social and economical rivalry between Athens and Thessaloniki.
Return to PAOK FC
Thus, Koudas rejoined PAOK in 1968, where he would spend the rest of his career. He gradually became the leader and captain of the legendary 70's squad created by Pantelakis, built on young Greek talents like Damanakis, Iosifidis, Terzanidis, Apostolidis, Gounaris, Sarafis, Dimopoulos and others. During that period, he celebrated the winning of two Greek Cups, in 1972 and 1974, and one Greek Championship, in 1976. He finally retired in 1984, at age 38.
Koudas holds the record for the most appearances with PAOK, appearing in 607 matches, 504 of which in the Greek 1st Division, spanning almost 21 seasons.
Koudas made 43 appearances for the National team of Greece, scoring 4 goals, between 1967-1982. He also appeared in UEFA Euro 1980 in Italy, along with PAOK teammates Konstantinos Iosifidis, Christos Terzanidis, Ioannis Damanakis and Ioannis Gounaris.
- Melbourne Club PAOK - Giorgos Koudas Statistics The Official PAOK Thessaloniki Supporters Club PAOK of Australia