Nikos Dabizas was a very good center-back who played for Newcastle for six seasons from 1998 through 2004, and during that time he made 130 appearances for the side, played in the Champions League and UEFA Cup under the incomparable Bobby Robson, and scored 11 goals and he was also capped 70 times for Greece.
Nikos Dabizas – when he played at Newcastle
Newcastle of course play Greek side Atromitos FC in a two game qualifying tie to reach the group stages of the Europa League, and it will be two of the five games Newcastle will be playing in the first 15 days of the season, which is a tall order for any club.
And Newcastle will likely play a complete second eleven in the first tie on Thursday 23rd August in Athens, given that we play Chelsea on the following Saturday, less than 48 hours after the game against Atromitos FC ends.
But it seems that Nikos has no doubts that his former club will be too good for Atromitos, as he talked to the Evening Chronicle yesterday:
“It was good news for me when I heard the draw.” “My friend rang me from Newcastle to tell me what had happened.” “This happened a few years ago when Newcastle drew my ex-club Olympiacos.”
“But for me this is not a difficult tie for Newcastle.” “They have no great history generally.” “They have been to the cup final two of the last three years.” “And they did finish fourth last season so they are well balanced in that sense.”
“Newcastle would have to play very poorly and they would have to overplay their own capabilities for there to be a shock.” “The standard of Greek football is not good. It is largely to down to the financial status here.”
“The philosophy is now about producing players from our own academies.” “In the last 10 years it has been about buying players who have not been good enough and wasting money.” “Now they have to do things in a cheaper way.”
“Hopefully they can bring some good young Greek players through. It is new era for Greek football and it is difficult to see what might happen.” “There is very much a different atmosphere around the game these days.”
“I was at Newcastle for six years. So I am as happy as anybody to see them back in Europe. It’s a nice feeling.” “I’m not too cautious about them in the near future. The club are going in the right direction.”
“I’ve done my UEFA pro-badges now. We’ll see what my options are.” “I’m waiting to see what the next step is but it will be in the near future. The next chapter of my life is coming up.” “It will definitely be in football so we’ll wait and see.”
Atromitos has refused to move their game back a day or two, so Newcastle have a little more breathing room before we play Chelsea on Saturday 25th August, in our second Premier League game of the season.
That does give the Greek club an advantage, but it would be a real shock if Atromitos can get the better of Newcastle over the two legged tie.
But that’s one of the early goals of the season for Newcastle – to qualify for the group stages of the Europa League – and it would be a disaster if we cannot do that, but we’ll take nothing for granted either.
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