Celtic's Samaras hints Melbourne return
Glasgow Celtic's Greek international striker, Georgios Samaras, has hinted that he would consider ending his career in Australia's A-League
Glasgow Celtic's Greek international striker, Georgios Samaras, has hinted that he would consider ending his career in Australia's A-League.
The 26 year-old, who was born in Greece to an Australian-born father and still has family in Melbourne, could have played for the Socceroos but opted to represent Greece over Australia.
His career has seen him play in the top divisions of the Netherlands, England and Scotland, with Herrenveen, Manchester City and now Celtic.
During his recent trip to Australia with Celtic, which included a 1-0 win over the Melbourne Victory on Thursday, Samaras told reporters he liked Melbourne and was considering a move back here towards the end of his career.
"I have got family in Melbourne, my father was born here and I'm an Australian citizen," he told Britain's News of The World. "I have an Aussie passport.
"My parents aren't in Melbourne any more but my uncles, aunts and cousins are.
"I really don't know if I will end up playing out here or even managing a club here one day, who knows?
"There is no long-term plan. The only thing I do know is I will never go back to Greece to play. I would never rule out the possibility of playing or even managing in Australia one day."
Samaras then spoke about his grandfather who he says migrated to Australia in the 1950s and stayed for 10 to 15 years.
"He was one of the founders of South Melbourne but he didn't play football. He just wanted to do something good for the Greek community.
"He liked to help people so he helped set up a team, but he didn't have a clue about football. My father was a good player and went on to become a Greek international.
Samaras said he enjoys being in Australia. "It feels nice for me, like a second home. I really like Melbourne a lot, it's a really good city. When I'm in Melbourne I feel relaxed and comfortable."
A BIG WIN FOR Football
Melbourne Victory played host to Scottish giants Celtic on Wednesday night, with a healthy crowd of 20,794 in attendance for the friendly despite cold and wet conditions that would have made the Glasgow club feel right at home.
Celtic were playing the final game of a three match tour of Australia that had already seen them lose against the Central Coast Mariners and beat Perth Glory. Victory had only returned to preseason training the prior week, and the difference in fitness levels was obvious throughout the game.
Celtic, fielding a multinational line-up, including Greek striker and captain for the night, Samaras, did the majority of the attacking in an entertaining match in which there was plenty of goalmouth incidents.
New Victory keeper Tando Velaphi put in a man-of-the-match performance, saving early from Kris Commons, then adding great stops from Beram Kayal, Paddy McCourt, three times from Samaras and again from Commons in the first half alone.
It wasn't all one-way traffic - the lively Marco Rojas, making his debut for Victory, made some excellent runs and showed real potential, and the ever dangerous Danny Allsopp almost scored mid-way through the first period, but managed to find Celtic keeper Lukasz Zaluska rather than the net.
The second half began with Charlie Mulgrew and Paddy McCourt both forcing saves from Velaphi before Victory applied some pressure. Solorzano, Allsopp (twice) and Archie Thompson (twice) all failing to take advantage of opportunities.
Having weathered Victory's best, Celtic came back into the match in the last 25 minutes - with McCourt again missing from close range and Anthony Stokes shooting just wide, before the Scots finally took the lead.
Scott Brown, on as a second half substitute, unleashed an unstoppable volley in the 78th minute which finally beat Velaphi - although even this wonder strike required a deflection to beat the young keeper.
Victory never looked like getting back into the game - with Celtic having chances to extend the lead as Stokes hit the bar and Daryl Murphy shot wide in the closing stages.
There was controversy after the game when it was revealed that the Victorian Police twitter feed had featured a running score of ejections from the crowd during the game - inferring that there was some kind of competition between the fans and the force with tweets like "Game over, Celtics (sic) 1, Police 14." The overnight reaction to the tweets was so strong that Inspector Mick Beattie, the officer in charge at the match, was forced to issue an apology to all football supporters on behalf of Victoria Police. Big crowd, good game, no arrests, and a police apology to fans… A big win for football on every level!!
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