Interview: Former Rush Player Playing for Panathinaikos Academy in Greece

Last year, Costa Iliadis (former 2005 Rush Canada player) tried out for Panathinaikos Academy in Greece. After impressing the academy coaching staff, Costa was offered a chance to play for their academy team. Later that year, he embarked on a new journey by moving to Greece to play for Panathinaikos Academy and attend school in Athens.
Here’s an interview we conducted with Costa where he shares some insights into his experience so far in Athens.

What was it like moving from Toronto and settling into a new environment in Athens? 
Was it difficult at first?
It was not very difficult because it felt easy. Main differences are the weather, the students at school are nice.

Where do you attend school? Is it very different from school in Ontario?
I go to school at St.Lawrence College (the British school in Athens). It is very different because students are teamed up randomly in groups (at all grade levels of the school) and they do little competitions against each other. It makes it fun.
How often do you train with Panathinaikos Academy? What are the training sessions like?
I train 3 days a week with 1 game on the weekend. We train from 5:30 – 7:30 and it’s the same thing as Rush but more difficult and they have different set pieces. The tempo is also much quicker.
What language do you speak with your team-mates? How is your Greek coming along?
I speak Greek to my team mates and sometimes speak English too. My Greek is getting better every day.
What position(s) are you playing in your current team? How is your team progressing?
I’m playing center mid, striker, left-wing, right-wing. We are a good team, we play as a team and we win many games.
Can you describe your typical weekday?
I go to school at 8:40AM until 3:15PM then I go home and have a snack and after that, I either stay home or go to soccer.
Can you describe your typical match day? Are the games on the weekends? How is your season/schedule setup?
Most games on are the weekends, either Saturday or Sunday and we arrive 45 minutes before start time. Our league only plays friendlies so we don’t really keep rankings and sometimes we play games during the week instead of practice.
What are the main differences between the academy teams in Canada and the teams in Greece?
The quality in the kids, the training and the coaches and the skills are much better. It’s also free.
Have you attended any Panathinaikos first team matches? What were they like?
I have been to many matches as a walk-out kid and the games are crazy. The games are not family friendly – a lot of bad language!
Who is your favourite player to watch on Panathinaikos senior team? Have you met any players?
My favourite player is Sebastian Leto and I see all of them at the training ground. I even got a lift one time!

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