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The secret weapon of Greek soccer

25 June 2014 / 21:06:00  GRReporter
3029 reads

The US is not famous for special soccer achievements. The sport is even far from being defined as popular among avid basketball and American football (rugby) fans. However, they play soccer across the Atlantic and keen sports fans cannot help but remember a tall, thin man with long curly hair and a beard, the US national team goalkeeper Alexi Lalas during the World Cup in the country in 1994.

"The first World Cup I was ever exposed to was that of 1986. I was 15 years old and I was in Colorado at a youth soccer tournament. I remember being in the hotel lobby at a Holiday Inn and everyone was gathered around a TV and we watched Diego Maradona destroying everyone. I was just amazed that this even existed. That was pretty late for a guy to be exposed to the World Cup, but that was the climate that existed back then. I was hooked," Lalas says about his first contact with the biggest soccer tournament in the world, in which he was involved less than 10 years later.

Today Panayotis Alexander (Alexi), who was born in 1970 in the family of a Greek man and American woman, is no longer in the stadiums, but continues to be engaged with his favourite sport. This time as a commentator of the World Cup in Brazil for the viewers of the American ESPN sports TV channel.

Here is how he presents his new talent in an interview with the New York Times, "We are in the studio. It’s an insulated environment with huge monitors all over the place. We’re watching from a tactical perspective who is having problems, individually or in their area of the field. We need to come back at halftime and say, ‘These are where the problems are and these are the possible solutions.’ But there is also an element of watching as a fan and enjoying it. We are hooting and hollering at the screen when someone does something incredible."

Lalas’ sports career began with hockey and from 1988 to 1991 he played in the Rutgers Scarlet Knights team. He began playing soccer in the winter of 1992 and trained with the reserve team of the British Arsenal football club.

After the World Cup in the United States Lalas began playing for the Italian Padova club and after a few years he returned to the United States. His last participation in the national team was on 30 May 1998 in a match against Scotland.

Over the years, Lalas was president and general manager of the US soccer teams San Jose Earthquakes, New York Red Bulls and Los Angeles Galaxy, where he participated in the transfer of David Beckham. Furthermore, according to unconfirmed reports, he is an unofficial adviser to the Greek nationals.

So far, the veteran player has not forecasted which team will become the next world champion. In an interview in early June, he said that this could be Brazil. In addition to the hosting country, he also pointed out Spain, Germany, Argentina and Uruguay.

So far, Lalas has not commented on the performance of the Greek national team in Brazil, but this is his reaction to its last night's victory against the Ivory Coast:

Tags: SoccerWorld championshipBrazilAlexi LalasCommentatorGreek national soccer team
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