In memoriam: Kostas Nestoridis

Kostas Nestoridis — the legendary Greek national team and AEK Athens FC striker, who also managed Kallithea FC to a historic promotion, and was a lifelong resident of Kallithea — passed away on Tuesday, 12 December, at the age of 93.

Born in Drama in 1930, Nestoridis grew up in the refugee settlements of Kallithea, where he began playing football with local teams. After beginning his career at Panionios, Nestoridis eventually joined AEK in 1955, going on to become top scorer in the Greek championship five times and helping the club win their first postwar championship in 1962/62 as well as the Greek Cup in 1963/64. Nestoridis would play for the national team on 17 occasions, scoring three goals.

In 1968/69, Kallithea FC hired Nestoridis and another local football great Takis Papoulidis as co-managers late in the season, and the duo would help lead the club to its first-ever promotion to the second division, culminating with a 1-0 extra-time win over AO Koropi in a playoff match on 21 June 1969.

Kallithea’s victory over Koropi also had significant political implications in dictatorial Greece. The result was considered an interruption of the planned reform of the football map being promoted by Kostas Aslanidis, the Secretary General of Sports during the rule of the Greek military junta of 1967-1974. The Aslanidis’ plan sought the elimination of clubs unfriendly to the regime, which included Kallithea, while Koropi were allied with the military side.

On the night of the promotion, Kallithea supporters and residents gathered at the club’s offices to celebrate, with BBC reporting: “Today, in the first mass anti-dictatorship event in Greece, the football team of Kallithea defeated the elite of the colonels, spreading enthusiasm among the inhabitants of this great democratic district.”