Inauguration of the AEK stadium, a tribute to Asia Minor, Pontus with a gift “one of us”

AEK’s new home in Athens opened its doors on Friday with thousands of fans attending a celebration dedicated to the club’s history and culture, intimately linked to Pontus and Asia Minor refugees.

The sold-out event began around 8 p.m. at Opap Arena in the western suburb of Nea Philadelphia, though doors opened hours earlier, to receive a crowd of around 30,000.

Young and old attended the inauguration. Photo: AEK FC/Twitter.

After the agiasmo, the official party unfolded with a lineup that included traditional Pontian dances, moving speeches and video projections covering historic moments and club icons.

The Athens Philharmonic Orchestra was also present at the event, while groups representing Greeks from Asia Minor, Cappadocia, Constantinople, Pontus and Thrace wearing traditional costumes marched through the new stadium taking banners.

Among the highlights of the evening was the guest appearance of legendary 92-year-old player Kostas Nestoridis.

His name is also etched in the history of Greek football in Australia, with Nestoridis recognized as a Championship winner and a member of the South Melbourne – Hellas Hall of Fame.

“We are blessed to be able to call Nestoridis one of our own,” one fan commented under a South Melbourne social media post about his appearance at the opening of the new stadium.

“In addition to his family and the AEK faithful, the moment was also heartwarming for many of our oldest supporters and former players who either shared the pitch or had the pleasure of watching the big man from the terrace of Middle Park,” the post concludes. .

The construction of Opap Arena as a purpose-built stadium for the club began in 2017 on the site of the former Nikos Goumas stadium.

AEK will play their first match at the stadium on Monday, October 3 against Panionios.

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