CHAD WINGER - Sunday, August 1, 2004
New York native Peter Philipakos, who had been in negotiations with AEK Athens, has been snatched up by bitter rivals Olympiakos where he will join the newly signed Rivaldo and be eligible for Champions League play.
The former American University (Washington, D.C.) standout had previously signed a 3 1/2 year with AEK in January after impressing in trials in December 2003. However, after serious cash issues at the club led to a mass restructuring of many players' contracts, the two sides grew far apart on a new deal which allowed Olympiakos to pounce.
Shortly after AEK legend Demis Nikolaidis led a successful bid to take the controlling interest of the debt ridden club, head coach Dusan Bajevic resigned and was replaced by former Sporting Lisbon boss Fernando Santos. Reassuming the top post at Olympiakos, Bajevic has now been able to swoop in and sign Philipakos to a 1-year deal with club options to bring him to Greece's largest club.
While his first team prospects at the moment seem slim with the glut of internationals at the club, Philipakos isn't going to stand still. "Peter may not feature much in the first year, as Olympiakos has some players who are certain to have a place in the first eleven," Philipakos' co-agent and brother Ted Philipakos told YA early Sunday morning.
With such players as Serbia & Montenegro midfielder Predrag Djordjevic, Brazil's Giovanni and Rivaldo as well as several members of Greece's Euro 2004 champions Philipakos will have no shortage of mentors in his soccer education and looks forward to the challenge.
"Peter accepts this. He's just 21 and entering a year he was supposed to be a senior in college as opposed to playing top football. Being a very ambitious footballer, Peter is ready to work for more."
With Olympiakos already in full swing in preseason preparations, it has still yet to be determined whether he will join his new teammates at preseason camp in Austria or train in Greece until they return.
Olympiakos finished second in last year's Hellenic National League to Panathinaikos by only two points, and have qualified directly into the group stage of this year's Champions League campaign.