Olympiacos presidents: 'Vassilis Spanoulis helped the team become a global phenomenon'

Giorgos Kyriakidis
Staff Writer
2023-09-17 20:55

Vassilis Spanoulis and Olympiacos presidents, Panagiotis and Giorgos Angelopoulos, reflected on the EuroLeague legend's 11-year-long career with the Reds. 

Credit: BasketNews/Giorgos Kyriakidis
Credit BasketNews/Giorgos Kyriakidis

Sunday night in Piraeus was one to remember. Olympiacos hosted a special ceremony to honor Vassilis Spanoulis, the athlete who changed the club's course almost single-handedly.

Spanoulis, now 41, led the Reds to back-to-back EuroLeague titles in 2012 and 2013, whilst leaving an indelible mark on the club's modern glory days that also included the return to the top of the Greek league in 2012, after a 15-year-long drought. 

Olympiacos invited important figures of European and Euroleague Basketball, including Rasho Nesterovic, Dejan Bodiroga, Pero Antic, Paulius Motiejunas, Jonas Kazlauskas, Dimitris Itoudis, Panagiotis Giannakis, Joe Arlauckas, Nikos Zisis and Nick Calathes. Spanoulis' ex-teammates Giorgos Printezis and Kostas Papanikolaou, who assumed captainship duties after V-Span's retirement, took center stage alongside the EuroLeague legend and club's presidents Panagiotis and Giorgos Angelopoulos. 

Vassilis Spanoulis

Vassilis  Spanoulis
Position: SG, PG
Age: 41
Height: 193 cm
Weight: 96 kg
Birth place: Larissa, Greece

Sasha Vezenkov, who accompanied Spanoulis during the latter's limelight years (2018-2021), flew over from Sacramento to Athens in order to attend the two-day festivities in Spanoulis' honor. The Bulgarian forward, who will wear jersey No.7 in his tenure with the NBA franchise, also put on Spanoulis' No.7 during the hour-long ceremony held at the -slightly renovated- Peace and Friendship Stadium. 

When Spanoulis' jersey ascended to the stadium's roof, the retired player and current Peristeri BC head coach could hardly conceal his emotions. 

"It was a weekend that ended in a fantastic way, which is not usual in Europe," Spanoulis told the media in a short presser that took place after the ceremony. 

"Two incredible nights I'll never forget," he added, while the two Angelopoulos brothers were seated next to him.

"It was a reward for what we did," Spanoulis continued. "Everything was done by the presidents and I want to thank them from my heart for what they have done for me."

Spanoulis further reflected on his 11-year career with the Reds after leaving their main rivals, Panathinaikos Athens, in 2010. 

"Olympiacos gave us life relationships and not just basketball-related ones. We built it through difficulties and success on solid foundations. The presidents are the people who regenerated Olympiacos and brought it to the top of Europe. Their instinct and faith in my talent and character changed the history of Olympiacos," Spanoulis pointed out.

The Larissa-born former athlete thanked all of his teammates and coaches, trainer Andreas Gkatzoulis who has followed him since his early days as a professional at Maroussi BC, and Olympiacos' fans "who have stood by the team."

Coming from a four-year term with Panathinaikos and having starred in many wins over Olympiacos, Spanoulis was initially cautious about the way he would be received by fans of his new team.

"My relationship with the fans was built over time, and we fought hard to build it. I thank those who came to show me respect and those who did not come for their own reasons," he added.

"In the good and difficult times, I gave my soul for the team. I tried to lead the team to achieve big things. We built a squad that will remain indelible in everyone's mind and that will continue to play a leading role," Spanoulis argued. 

Referring to how he experienced the days leading up to his jersey retirement, Spanoulis admitted the process made him walk down memory lane. 

"A lot went through my mind these days. I feel respect for Olympiacos and I am blessed that I retired wearing Olympiacos' jersey," he stressed.

Panagiotis and Giorgos Angelopoulos took center stage during the ceremony, which was held exactly two years after the 41-year-old retired. 

Panagiotis Angelopoulos called Spanoulis "the greatest basketball player in the history of Olympiacos."

"What people see only in part explains the miracles we achieved in the era of Vassilis. We went to the Final four, reached the top and stayed there. Vassilis brought his aura into Olympiacos' locker room, and now we continue to fight for the top of Europe.

When my brother and I first watched the video made for Vasilis, we got shivers because we thought of what we had lived through. Those were some of the best moments of our lives," Angelopoulos conceded.

Both presidents pointed out that Spanoulis' jersey banner is equal to "a trophy banner adorning the Peace and Friendship Stadium's sky."

Giorgos Angelopoulos said he got to experience some of the best moments of his life alongside Spanoulis.

"With you, we turned Olympiacos into a global phenomenon, amidst incredible difficulties and adversity. We reached the top in our own way, having 1/4 of the budget of other teams, but also showing modesty, our principles and values. Those moments are never forgotten. 

Our trip with Vasilis exceeded all expectations and dreams. We thought he would make the change happen, but sometimes life is better than what you expect," the Greek businessman uttered.


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