‘You have no idea. I was so near’ – Liverpool’s hoped-for transfer fell through after daily phone calls to the manager and chairman.
“It’s impossible to imagine. I couldn’t believe I didn’t sign with the club when I was so close.”
If you ask the average Premier League football fan to name a current or former Greek player, Stelios Giannakopoulos is likely to be one of the first names that comes to mind.
He was a member of the Greece team that won Euro 2004 and spent five seasons with Bolton Wanderers in the English Premier League, when Sam Allardyce’s side was one of the toughest to beat, as well as two historic Europa League campaigns.
The midfielder was a scorer of fantastic goals for the Whites, and his efforts at the Reebok Stadium did not go unnoticed, with Rafa Benitez hoping to sign Stelios for £2 million in the summer of 2005.
When asked about Liverpool’s interest in the wideman in May 2005, he responded, “All I know is that Liverpool have showed interest in me.”
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“I’m not going to say anything else. I’m currently under contract with Bolton. It’s a privilege for me and for Bolton, the Liverpool interest. “We’ll see.”
Following that, the clubs had a tense interaction, with Chairman Phil Gartside issuing a no-hands warning and stating that the Greek was not for sale, before subsequently alleging that Reds CEO Rick Parry had told him Liverpool were not interested.
At the start of August 2005, Bolton manager Sam Allardyce stated, “The chairman has assured me that he has spoken to Rick Parry over all the rumors and there is no bid coming from Liverpool for Stelios.”
“One would hope that would put it to rest, wrap it up, and put an end to all the newspaper speculation that is circulating, because it bothers me and it surely bothers Stelios.
“And it worries me that if something like this happens, his mind won’t be in the right place for the start of the season.
“Hopefully, that’ll be the end of it, and he’ll be able to focus on getting ready for us.”
Later following month, though, it was a very different story, as Gartside slammed Liverpool’s actions. “The summary has come to an end.”