The Austrian coach first landed in Greece in the summer of 1983 to sign for AE Larissa. He led them all the way to the Greek Cup final of 1984, where they lost 2-0 to Panathinaikos. A few days later he took over the reins at PAOK, who were going through a transition stage, after Giorgos Koudas and Mladen Furtula hung up their boots. However both of them remained in PAOK’s family. The former became team manager and the latter joined the coaching staff as assistant.
PAOK made a few signings, all of them proving eventually very successful. Rade Paprica and Ivan Jurišić came from the thriving Yugoslavia market to become important cogs in the regular line-up. Aristidis Karasavvidis, a starlet of Greece’s U19 team, went on to make 17 appearances and contribute 4 goals.
Walter Skocik mainly relied on a group of 16 footballers who beared the burden in the league, while six players (Mavromatis, Liakos, Spanosotiropoulos, Malioufas, Stergioudas and Iordanidis) proved reliable alternatives in some matches.
The Austrian tactician was a low key person, had already come to grips with the Greek temperament and knew how to handle his team and defuse problems. “He was a philosopher of football. He let his players display their talent and had a unique way to reduce the stress”, Kostas Iosifidis reminisces. Skocik worked on the players’ morale and mentality, especially in the turning points of the league: for example, when PAOK defeated Panathinaikos at OAKA to top the league after the first round of fixtures and then were held 0-0 by Apollon Smyrni at Toumba. “Getting a champions’ reception was not good for us”, he said after the match, trying to keep his players’ feet firmly on the ground.
Giorgos Skartados joined PAOK from Rodos who got 8 million drachmas in order to release him in the summer of 1982. At first he played at right back, filling the void left by Giannis Gounaris who activated the 12-year clause to continue his career at Olympiacos. Skartados was one of the first utility players of Greek football. He had the quality to play wherever his coach deemed necessary. Apart from right back, he also featured as centre back, sweeper, right interior midfielder, screening midfielder, classic playmaker, left interior midfielder –he even went on to spearhead PAOK’s attack in some matches!
He topped the team’s scoring charts in six seasons and he contributed 11 goals in the league triumph of 1984-85, just one goal behind top scorer Christos Dimopoulos (12).
His goal in the first minute of the encounter against Iraklis at Trikala proved pivotal. In the 5-2 win over Ethnikos, he netted one of PAOK’s two hat-tricks of the season –Giorgos Kostikos scored the other at Patras, at the expense of Panachaiki.
During his decade at PAOK, he made the top-five list of the club’s all-time scorers and is also listed among the ten footballers with most matches played for the “Double-Headed Eagle”. Having spent most of his career at the ranks of PAOK, the afore-mentioned achievements place him among the best ever Greek football players.
He is the most decorated player of PAOK, having played for them in both golden eras of the club. He was just 20 years old in his first season at Toumba, when he celebrated PAOK’s maiden silverware, the Greek Cup of 1972. He hung up his boots in 1985, after the celebration of the club’s second league title. He was also there for the Greek Cup of 1974 and the maiden league of 1976. He played for PAOK from summer of 1971 until summer of 1985, after lifting the league trophy on 16 June 1985 following the 1-1 draw against Panathinaikos. He featured in 17 encounters during that season, making the starting line-ups of Walter Skocik 15 times. The Panathinaikos match of the league’s closing day was his last for PAOK, as he didn’t play in the Greek Cup final of the following week (the “Double-Headed Eagle” lost 4-1 to AE Larissa).
He was a one-man club in his 14-year career in football and his 397 matches for PAOK bring him in second place of the most-matches list. He was a starter for Les Shannon since the age of 19 in 1971-72, and became the cornerstone of PAOK’s back five until the club secured their first professional league title in 1985.
Even after retiring from football, he never left the “Double-Headed Eagle” and has served the club from various posts.
He scored his maiden top-flight goal on 23 November 1975 at Toumba Stadium, as a player of Trikala in a 1-1 draw. Back then he had no way of knowing that he would enjoy his best football years dressed in PAOK’s shirt. He joined the “Double-Headed Eagle” in the summer of 1977, after a season of 10 goals for Pierikos (one of them against PAOK) in 34 encounters.
It took him one season to open his PAOK account, but from then on he was on fire. In 1981-82 he registered his best tally, netting 19 goals in 34 appearances. He also managed to score four goals in a match twice (PAOK–Rodos 5-0 and PAOK-Ethnikos 5-1).
The league winning season was not his best, as he suffered the most serious injury of his career and was on the sidelines from Christmas until April. He was influential though, netting 8 times in 18 appearances, his goals proving crucial –especially the penalty he was awarded (and converted himself) in the victory over Olympiacos at Toumba on matchday 4. After that win, PAOK climbed at the top of the standings and never looked back until the end of the season.