Apostolos Nikolaidis

Apostolos Nikolaidis (1896 - 15 October 1980) marked Panathinaikos with his personality during the first years of the intervening period between the two world wars.

He was born in Plovdiv (Greek: Philippoupolis). He was an athletic phenomenon, as he competed in decathlon, football, basketball and volleyball. He moved to Athens in 1917 and ever since then he joined the family of Panathinaikos. He was a member of the Olympic team of 1920 (Antwerp), both as a football player and as a track athlete. He played football for more than ten years. He contributed to all sections of PAO and it is worth mentioning that as an honor his coffin was carried on the shoulders of athletes from all PAO sections: Economopoulos, Camaras, Antoniadis (football), Zaharopoulos (trace), Georgantis, Eliopoulos (volleyball), Garos, Calogeropoulos (basketball). In 1926-27 he was elected president of EPO, while after the German occupation (1945) and for a period of about 20 years he also had the position of the SEGAS president. For decades he was a counsellor of Panathinaikos and in 1974 he became president. After his death, the home stadium of Panathinaikos at Leoforos Alexandras was named after him in 1981, at a ceremony presided by then Prime Minister George Rallis.

Controversy

Nikolaidis is a controversial figure. Although considered by many as the patriarch of the family of Panathinaikos, he is responsible for one of the biggest crises in the history of the club, the breakaway of 1931. While he was the president of the club, he had a major dispute with Angelos Messaris, the best player of the team. The dispute was about Messaris wanting to study engineering at NTUA, while Nikolaidis did not want him to be involved in anything except football. It was rumoured that Nikolaidis was involved in Messaris' application being rejected three times from NTUA. This dispute led Messaris to quit football altogether, much to the dismay of a significant number of players and administratives, who sided behind Stamatios Merkouris, the son of Athens mayor at the time. Merkouris challenged Nikolaidis authority, eventually leading to presidential elections. Nikolaidis won by a small margin and he immediately ousted from Panathinaikos all those who stood against him, including a figure with mythical proportions to Panathinaikos fans, the founder of the club George Kalafatis. Although most of them joined again the team 20 years later, this action was never forgiven by a large portion of the fans.

Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium

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