Martin C. Barry
Where were you on July 4, 2004? For those with short memories or who are perhaps too young to remember, it was on that memorable date that Greece – playing for just the second time in a EUFA European soccer championship – defied massive odds to win the UEFA Euro 2004 Final against Portugal.
On May 31 next year, members of the 2004 European Championship “Legends” team will be coming to the Complexe sportif Claude-Robillard in Montreal to play against a Canadian all-star soccer team in an exhibition benefit match during which everybody present will be invited to “Relive the Magic.”
“We expect around 5,000 people to attend this event,” spokesperson Simon Tsalikis of TSN 690 Montreal told a gathering of supporters and media who turned up for an official announcement held at Souvlaki Bar at the Laval Centropolis on July 4 – the 15th anniversary of Greece’s monumental victory.
“It’s something that’s hard to explain to a younger generation,” added Tsalikis, referring to the feeling that swept the global Greek community at the time. It was like a combination of the recent Toronto Raptors basketball victory along with the legendary 1972 Team Canada hockey win against the Soviet Union.
Was a proud moment
As he said, a lot of people of an older generation can remember Labelle Blvd. in Chomedey or Jean-Talon St. in Montreal’s Park Extension neighbourhood having to be shut as thousands of exultant Greeks manifested their collective pride.
According to Tsalikis, the match will be part of a series of exciting events taking place over an entire weekend. The organizers are hoping to raise $150,000 for Kik for a Cause, which is overseen by a team of Montreal professionals and business people who share a love for soccer as well as a desire to give back to the community.
The members of this not-for-profit organisation include Peter Nikiforos, Jimmy Nikolidakis, Nick Katalifos, Michael Mastronikolas, George Papadakos, Dimitri Liosi, John Limnatis and Simon Tsalikis.
Remember and celebrate
“On May 31, 2020, Kik for a Cause is inviting everybody, whether you’re Greek or it doesn’t matter what nationality or background, to see a very special group of players,” said Kik for a Cause president Peter Nikoforos.
“These are the players who won in 2004. They’re going to come to Montreal where they will be playing a group of Montrealers, Torontonians and Canadian soccer players at this charity event. We are expecting most or all of the team roster to be here.”
No winners or losers
“The game itself won’t have any meaning as far as who wins and loses,” said former Montreal Impact head coach, Canadian Soccer Hall of Famer and Laval native John Limniatis who is supporting the cause.
“This is all about bringing together two competitive teams. I’m really happy to be doing this. It’s a real honour and personally very satisfying to be doing something like this from a Canadian perspective. I hope it’s a very competitive game and that it is a great success.”