Little did Chris Kalantzis know he would end up on a luxury boat with a millionaire club owner minutes after touching down in Athens.

The boat belonged to the owner of Greek powerhouse Panathinaikos – the only problem being he had arrived in Athens to sign for rivals Olympiakos.

At just 20-years-old and fresh out of the National Soccer League, Kalantzis found himself in opposition territory.

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“I got off the plane and while I was waiting in line, I got a tap on the shoulder,” he said.

“The man said, ‘Chris can you come with me’ and he waved me through passport control and I went through a side gate into a limo.

“They told me my parents knew and not to worry.

“I went to a marina and onto a big boat owned, not by the owner of Olympiakos who brought me over, but the owner of Panathinaikos.

“I opened the door and there he was sitting with my parents.”

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Kalantzis told FNR he was offered a five-year contract with Panathinaikos, but told the owner and staff he needed time before making a decision.

Time was not on his side, however, as Olympiakos fans and staff were waiting for the 20-year-old at his hotel with a five-year deal of their own.

“There were red and white flags outside my hotel room,” he said.

“Olympiakos offered me five years like Panathinaikos, but I ended up signing up signing for Panathinaikos, the green and white, the ones that didn’t pay for my ticket over.”

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After 118 appearances and 11 goals at Panathinaikos – Kalantzis became the first player to move from the green-and-white to rivals Olympiakos.

Kalantzis would go on to score his “greatest goal” in his first derby against Panathinaikos – a scissor kick outside the box to win the match.

“That goal was the highlight of my career,” Kalantzis said.

“For Olympiakos it was all about revenge, especially for the fans when I signed.

“They knew Panathinaikos had done the dirty to sign me.”

Kalantzis made 81 appearances for Olympiakos and scored seven goals.

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Athos Sirianos
athos@footballnationradio.com.au