Rest in peace Caesar….
He was a footballer who wrote his name in golden letters on the pages of Greece’s football history books. A wonderful man who served PAOK for more than 45 years. Ivan Savvidis, the administration, the squad, his “kids” at the PAOK Academy and all PAOK FC staff express their sincere condolences to the family of Stavros Sarafis for his untimely loss. Rest in peace, Caesar…
Stavros Sarafis had been fighting for his life with vigor since September 17, when he was admitted to hospital after suffering a stroke. On the morning of October 13th, however, and although there had been some encouraging signs in the last days, Caesar passed away, to the sorrow of all who knew him and loved him.
The Caesar of PAOK
He was born in Epanomi on January 18, 1950 and his love affair with football began in primary school. His parents were farmers and every morning they began their day early in their fields. He didn’t stay home to sleep more. He would take a ball to play football with his classmates before classes started. There was an unspoken agreement between them and they would sacrifice their sleep to kick a ball around. «Even if nobody was there, I would hit the ball against the wall, taking shots or practicising headers,» he recalled.
At the age of 13, he signed for Epanomi and played for the first team as the youngest of the Regional Championship of Thessaloniki, in which Anagennisi was competing at the time. «The first coach I worked with was Adam Kitsoudis, in Epanomi, who liked to work with the youngsters in Epanomi and deal with their weak points. Thus, at the age of 15, I had developed both due to the training, but also due to the strength I had to acquire in order to face clearly older opponents.»
From the beginning of his career he played as a midfielder and stayed at Epanomi from 1963 to 1967. Nikos Pangalos had spotted his talent and in fact in 1965 when he had an appendicitis operation, he made sure that PAOK took care of all the expenses. His transfer to the Double-headed Eagle was completed on August 15, 1967.
He was only 17, but he was so ready that with less than a month at the club he started in PAOK’s European game against Liege in the Exhibition Cup at the Kaftanzoglio Stadium on 13 September 1967, and a week later (20.09) he was a starter again in the match in Belgium.
The start of the league season was delayed and the 1st matchday which took place on October 8, 1967 found him again a starter and even scoring the first goal of the season for PAOK in the 72nd minute. This was also his first goal at the Toumba. Another 137 in 358 appearances in the ‘A’ National League followed, while in the Greek Cup he played in 54 matches with PAOK and scored 26 goals. Additionally, he made 21 appearances in European competitions and scored 7 goals. In total he played in 433 official matches with PAOK and scored 169 goals.
He was one of the main contributors to the team’s league title in 1976, while earlier – in 1972 and 1974 – he had competed in both finals when PAOK won the Greek Cup.
The nickname «Caesar»
«I was «baptized» as Caesar… by my first coach at PAOK, Nikos Pangalos, because I had curly auburn hair. At the time the movie Julius Caesar was playing in the cinemas and that’s how he made the connection,» recalled Sarafis.
Greece national team chapter
Sarafis played in all of the Greek national team age level groups and was a member of the youth side when he was still a player at Renaissance Epanomi. He played in 32 matches with the full Greece national team and scored 7 goals.
He made his debut for Greece on July 19, 1969 in the 1-0 defeat against Australia that took place in Sydney. His last game came on April 24, 1977 in a match against the former Soviet Union that ended it a 2-0 defeat for Greece in Moscow.
Debut: September 13th 1967 | PAOK – Liege 0-2
Final appearance: June 7th 1981 | Atromitos – PAOK 0-2
Greek league title winner: 1975-76
Greek Cup wiiner: 1971-72, 1973-74
PAOK top scorer in the ‘Α’ National Championship with 137 goals.
4th in the list of most appearances for PAOK in the Greek top flight, behind Koudas, Iosifidis, and Gounaris.