The captains of the U17 title contenders
Teenage years almost never go hand in hand with responsibility. Football however requires discipline and focus on targets set –on this occasion, the league title of the Super League U17. PAOK’s three skippers must lead their team to the top. They wear the armband. They will assume the responsibility in case of failure, they will be the first to lift the trophy in case of success.
Sokratis Kyrillidis, Polykarpos Liaptsis and Nikos Paspalas met with paokfc.gr to discuss the U17 Final Four, a few hours before the semi-final against Asteras Tripolis to be held at Agrinio. Here is the profile of the three skippers.
In a fortnight, on 15 June, it’s his 17th birthday and he would love to celebrate it with a cup. When he was a kid, he would go to Siatista Kozani Academy, without his parents knowing about it, just to watch the older children play football. A friend of his mother’s betrayed his secret to his mother and she decided that her son should try his luck. Ever since, Sokratis Kyrillidis has been going after his dream methodically.
He joined PAOK in 2009 and he won four trophies in his first season with the “Double-Headed Eagle”. He remembers them, one by one. He also remembers his goal in the semi-final against AFC Ajax in the renowned Lennart Johansson tournament. And the final won by PAOK at the expense of Olympiacos in a tournament at Vrilissia, courtesy of his goal again.
He has no unpleasant memories –how great is that!- and lives in an apartment in Thessaloniki with his buddy Polykarpos Liaptsis. He has a sister studying in Italy, he admires Steven Gerrard, does “what he can” at school and hopes to get into Physical Education Academy.
Sokratis Kyrillidis is a strong international midfielder, has already trained with PAOK first team and his aim is but one: to establish himself in the club and make his debut for the seniors.
Regarding the Final Four, he says that “we came to Agrinio to win the trophy and will do everything in our power to achieve our goal. We are rested, very well prepared and determined”.
He knew he wanted to play football even before his 4th birthday. Thanks to his father, Polykarpos Liaptsis got in touch with football really early and has never looked back ever since.
Born on 12 March 1998 at Perkidas Ptolemaida, Polykarpos Liaptsis grew into a strong, fast full back, with enviable skills and effectiveness. He has been at Atromitos Ptolemaida for four years, before getting spotted by Alexis Tasoulis in 2009 and joining PAOK.
He was so determined to make it at the “Double-Headed Eagle”, that he would travel back and forth from Ptolemaida to Thessaloniki four times a week for two-and-a-half years in order to train. He then was accommodated at PAOK dorms for a year and now lives in an apartment with his friend Sokratis Kyrillidis. His family still resides at Ptolemaida.
Liaptsis is an international, won the Rimini Cup with PAOK and has lots of joyful memories with the black-and-white shirt on: “I cannot pick one over the other”, he says, but he also remembers failed semi-finals that have been carved on his memory. He admires Sergio Ramos and wishes to study in the Physical Education Academy.
He declares himself happy to be participating in the Final Four, he stresses that this team is really a family and wishes to thank the coaches and the whole staff for “this amazing journey”. “I am confident and I believe that, by remaining united, we will reach our objective, bringing the cup to Thessaloniki”, he adds.
He wishes to remain strong and keep working hard, in order to join the senior team. This kid admits that his life is just like he dreamt it –and in such cases the future is promising.
Nikos Paspalas is a tall centre back full of potential, but has suffered injuries. That is the description of his coaches. He is modest and down to earth, lives with his family at Diavata, dreams of succeeding in football, loves machines and adores watching Thiago Silva play.
Born on 19 February 1998, he first played football at the age of 6 in his village, Kalochori. He then joined Bebides Ionia, Aris and landed at PAOK in 2010. He has two brothers, aged 22 and 10 –the latter is following on his footsteps at Diavata Academy.
His most intense recollections are a successful final for then Makedonia Clubs Union league (4-1 over Iraklis), a victory over FC Dynamo Kyiv in a Russia tournament and the semi-final win over AFC Ajax in the Lennart Johansson tournament two years ago. He would like to forget a match against FC Shakhtar Donetsk in Russia, when PAOK got eliminated by conceding a goal in the dying minutes.
Such matches, however, make a player stronger, and lead him to his goals step by step, as he points out. “We will be focused and demure in both Final Four matches and we will win the trophy”. His next aim? Making it to the senior squad, establish himself as a player, living the dream.
- The first semi-final of the Final Four is held on 28 May at 17.00 between Olympiacos and PAS Giannina. The second kicks off at 20.00 between PΑΟΚ and Asteras Tripolis. The final will be held on Saturday 30 May and kicks off at 18.00.
- Τhe U17 Final Four is broadcast live and exclusively on Novasports 2, Novasports 2 HD, Novasports 1 and Novasports 1 HD. You can also watch the games on Nova GO and Novasports.gr Web TV