Notis Tsintoglou – Memories live for ever
He was the grandftaher that all of us would love to have had. The kind that sits calmly in his armchair and waxes lyrical about his youth for hours, always polite and with a sparkle in my eyes. And the truth is that he will be sorely missed. In 2017, we had a delightful interview with him for Toumba Magazine.
Let’s remember, then, who Notis Tintoglou was, through his own words, as we heard them in the 9οth edition of the Dikefalos tou Vorra’s official magazine:
I learned το play football in the old quarries, next to the memorials in the Evangelistria settlement. I was playing at a local square and at the old Iraklis stadium in the Universities. A security guard from Iraklis had seen me and began chasing me to go there.
In the army, I participated in the all-Greek track and field event and came third in the 800 meters. Nikos Zachariadis told me to go with him and he promised me he would make me a champion. «Niko, I’ll do what I love,» I replied. And so I got into football.
One of the highlights of my career that I hold dear is when I represented the Coast Guard. I was in the zone. I scored a goal giving the goalkeeper no chance, and later on in the game I dribbled passed everyone, even the goalkeeper, before squaring the ball for a teammate to score. The fans invaded the pitch, hoisted my up and carried me around the pitch.
I was a winger who played with the opposite foot to the side of the pitch I was playing on. This was a great innovation for that time. I was playing on the left, but I had a good right foot and it was very difficult for opponents who weren’t used to playing against that style.
I was a bit of a jerk on the pitch. I really liked to tease opponents. I dribbled passed them and then wen back so I could go past them again. I was constantly talking on the field, both to the opponents and to my teammates.
I remember our coach, Willi Sevcik, calling me ‘Gramophone’ because I was something like a coach on the field. I knew football and I was comfortable with my game, while my teammates were quiet, dedicated and didn’t talk. I was constantly giving directions.
The playing conditions back then were completely different to what they are now. The pitches were muddy, the benefits were zero, and the money was not even a tiny fraction of what it is now. When we came in at half-time they were bringing us 10 bottles of soda. And if we said, «Hey, there’s eleven of us,» they’d just say, «Come on, the goalkeeper didn’t have much running to do.» We played with our souls, though. We sweated blood for the shirt, and the team, and we loved what we did.
I lived through all of the history of the construction of Toumba, which was largely due to the actions of Mr. Dimadis, who went against his political beliefs in order to lay the groundwork for the stadium. I played in the very first game held there, the friendly against AEK.
I had a great life and career ay PAOK, I can’t say that I have any regrets. The only thing I wish is that I had managed to play for the Greek national team. For us «northerners» it was difficult at that time. Once I got into the squad, but an injury stopped me from playing in a match.
I stopped playing football at 29 because of professional obligations. Back then we received no pay. I could have definitely played for another three years, but it was my choice. My good friend and former coach, Kleanthis Vikelidis, asked me to go into a coaching school to continue my career in the dugout. I told him this could not happen because I couldn’t go to another team besides PAOK.
After the end of my career, I served at PAOK in various posts. Just 15 days after I literally hung up my boots after a 5-2 win over Pankorinthiakos, I joined the club’s administration. I was a consultant to the president on sports issues and for 13 years I was in charge of the stadium.
You could say that I was the technical director of the ‘Golden Team’ of the 1970s. I always had the last word on completing a transfer. They would introduce a player to Pantelakis and he would ask, «What did Tsintoglou say?» If I had not seen the player they would not have come to PAOK. Koudas, Apostolidis, Aslanidis, Terzanidis, Sarafis, Foudoukidis and so many others…
I specifically remember the case of Kostas Iosifidis. Some people from the club had gone to watch him. They told the president that he was a monkey and he was not good enough for PAOK. «Let Tsintoglou see him,» he urged. After I watched him, I said: «President, get him. He’ll be a good player.» The rest is history.
I’ve always had a theory about football. That you don’t need to know football, you need to know how to play football. For example, Sarafis didn’t know football, but he knew how to play. He saw Koudas coming down the wing, and he would make his run into the area. Cross, head, goal.
We experienced some really unique moments at PAOK. Thessaloniki was smaller then. People stopped us in the street, hugged us, and kissed us. Of course I was not the most compatible with the setup. Many times as an administrator, I had broken ties the organized fans. In my view, they were there to support the club, not the other way around.
I have not stopped watching PAOK for a second. Even now, that I can’t get on to the pitch, I don’t miss a match. And not just football. When I follow the Dikefalos tou Vorra I also watch basketball, handball, and polo. Everything.
It’s a big deal for PAOK to have [Ivan] Savvidis. We have a good football team, but the main thing is that we have no financial issues anymore. The squad is good, but in the past we were a bit unlucky.
It’s time for PAOK to win titles. Traditionally, the club should have more titles. So far, those clubs from «down South» have been favored due to their background and perhaps the referees. In the 1970s, we stole three championships. In my playing days, the Southerners came to play with four foreigners each, declared as Greeks. Draws were fixed. Olympiacos, then Aigaleo. Now all that has changed.
To tell you the truth, even now when I see the players today I am jealous. I’m not jealous of the money they get. I envy the stadiums, the beautiful support that they get. Every time I watch PAOK, I get in the position of the players and live it.
I’m proud to associate my name with PAOK. It’s the only thing I will never regret. It is something that I have passed on to my children and I am proud to be a «PAOKtzis».
My father had always advised me, «My son, make your life great.» And I listened to his advice and filled my life with PAOK …