The Greek who holds the keys to European football for the last 8 years
Famous Greeks

The Greek who holds the keys to European football for the last 8 years

Born in an environment with strong footballing traditions, being the eldest son of the goalkeeper-legend of Olympiacos and later manager of the Piraeus team, Savvas Theodoridis, Theodoros could hardly have avoided loving football. The smell of the freshly cut grass of the pitch, the celebrations of the fans in the stands, the thrills of his father’s saves and his successes, were engraved in his consciousness from a young age and the continuation, although unpredictable, seems to have had the basis to explain itself.

So he loved football and learned to enjoy it in its entirety. A fanatical fan of Nikos Anastopoulos, he singled out Angelos Basinas for his talent, and loved the Leeds team in England fanatically. Theodoros Theodorides, never really got involved in domestic football, except when it acted as a… sedative for his father, Savvas, whenever Olympiacos won.

“I always want to keep the romantic side of football. One of the big and difficult goals for all of us is this. The best possible marriage. Not to lose the romantic part of it and maintain the pace of growth and popularity,” he had said in an interview with Vima.

Theodoros Theodorides, who earned a degree in marketing from the University of Philadelphia in the US, was a classmate of his, later president of the EPO, Sophocles Pilavios at the Moraitis School and was a member of the famous pioneering team of Greek football that tried to change the football map in 2007 with the creation of the Super League, together with Yannis Vardinoyannis, Petros Kokkalis, Demis Nikolaidis, Kostas Piladakis, Patrick Komninos and Takis Kanellopoulos.

He kept his distance from Greek football, did not want to be involved in it and preferred to develop his contacts in Europe. Theodoros Theodoridis became even better known to the general public in 2008 when the EPO announced that he was taking on a role in the team of special advisors to UEFA president Michel Platini. For some, this news was a bolt from the blue. However, as Theodoridis himself stressed in an interview, he met Platini in 1998, they immediately developed friendly relations and shared views on European football and all this led to the partnership 10 years later. Such was the Frenchman’s confidence in the Greek player that he made sure in a short time to increase his responsibilities and make him widely known in the ranks of the European federation.

His relationship with UEFA began almost 25 years ago, when from 1998 to 2000 he was a member of the UEFA Club Competitions Committee, where he served as third vice-president from 2007 to 2009, and from 2000 to 2004 he was a member of the UEFA Stadia and Safety Committee, where he also served as vice-president from 2004 to 2007. In addition, he was Director of the National Associations Division from 2008 to 2016 and served as Deputy Secretary General from 2010 to 2016.

Then, in 2016, came the ultimate reward for him. It was on Sunday, 6 March, in Nihon, Switzerland, the same day as his son Savvas’ birthday, that Theodoros Theodoridis celebrated his spectacular rise through the UEFA hierarchy. The UEFA Executive Committee, meeting in Athens, confirmed the appointment of Theodoros Theodorides as permanent general secretary of the European confederation.

The proposal, which was accepted by the EU members, was made by the new UEFA President Alexander Ceferin.

Theodoridis was originally appointed to the post last February, replacing Gianni Infantino who decided to run (and was eventually elected) for the FIFA presidency.
“I’m happy here in Nyon, I’ve found my peace, I’m working long hours,” Theodoros Theodorides, who almost cut ties with domestic football, was telling friends and acquaintances at the time. Of course, he has attended European meetings of Olympiacos, PAOK and Panathinaikos in an official capacity, but with his sons he was only at an Olympiacos – Kalloni match many years ago.

He sticks to the beautiful memories of winning Euro 2004, “the most beautiful memory and I wouldn’t change it for anything”, he says It is characteristic that on the day of his election, the majority of the golden generation did not forget him and sent him messages of congratulations! He comes home about twice a year for family reasons. A great Greek victory, a personal one for Theodorides, along with of course the good words that the agents of all the Greek teams say about him.

To this day, Theodoros Theodoridis is still the No 2 in the UEFA hierarchy. “My whole career has been in football,” he says, “and not a day goes by that I don’t recognise this as a great privilege. For me it’s an exciting game – full of last-minute surprises, spectacular skills and intense competition.”