Apostolos Nikolaidis (athlete)
Life and career
He was born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, a member of the Greek community. After his graduation from the Robert College in Istanbul, he moved first to Thessaloniki (where he competed as an athete of Aris Thessaloniki) and later to Athens in 1917 and joined the family of Panathinaikos. He was an athletic phenomenon, as he successfully competed in decathlon, football, basketball and volleyball and also a successful racing driver. He was member of the Greek team of 1920 (in Antwerp), both as a football player and as a track athlete. He played football for more than ten years and contributed to all sports departments of PAO. He became also manager of the Greece national football team.
In 1926-27 he was elected president of the Hellenic Football Federation and for a period of more than twenty years president of the Hellenic Amateur Athletic Association (1945-67). Moreover, he was president of the Automobile and Touring Club of Greece. For many decades, he was a board member of Panathinaikos A.C. and in 1974 he became president of the club. His contribution was significant to the transformation of Panathinaikos to a successful multi-sports club, apart from football. He contributed also the Constantinopolitans of Athens in the creation of A.E.K. (sports club).
Upon his death, as an honour, his coffin was carried on the shoulders of eight athletes from different PAO departments: Ikonomopoulos, Kamaras, Antoniadis (football), Zacharopoulos (track), Georgantis, Iliopoulos (volleyball), Garos, Kalogeropoulos (basketball). The home stadium of Panathinaikos at Alexandras Avenue was named after him in 1981, at a ceremony presided by the then Prime Minister Georgios Rallis.
Although considered as Patriarch of Panathinaikos, Nikolaidis is involved also in one of the biggest crises in the history of the club, the breakaway of 1931. While he was one of the leading board members of the club during the presidency of Nikolaos Xiros, he had a major dispute with Angelos Messaris, and other players of the team. The reasons of the dispute were not clear, but maybe was about Messaris wanting to study engineering at the National Technical University of Athens, while Nikolaidis did not want him to be involved in anything except football.
The bad situation in the club led Messaris to quit football, much to the dismay of a significant number of players and officials, who sided behind Stamatis Mercouris (son of Spyridon Merkouris -Athens' Mayor at the time- and father of actress Melina Mercouri), who as also member of the board. Merkouris challenged the team's authority, eventually leading to a poll. Xiros and Nikolaidis side won by a small margin and the new board immediately ousted from Panathinaikos all those who stood against, including a figure with mythical proportions to the fans, the founder of the club Giorgos Kalafatis. Although many of them (including Kalafatis) joined the club again later, this action was never forgiven by a portion of the fans.
- Apostolos Nikolaidis. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 2015-01-08.