The immensely popular Vieirinha has led by example as captain and inspiration at PAOK who last won the title in 1984-85 before Vieirinha was even born. Last year PAOK came close to taking the title but bizarre circumstances thwarted their efforts.
Towards the end of the season POAK hosted AEK needing a victory to assert themselves in the title race. Vieirinha’s men had a goal disallowed in the closing minutes, leading to a pitch invasion which included irate PAOK owner Ivan Savvidis. The game was abandoned, with events taking an incredible turn two hours after the match when the referee changed his mind and awarded PAOK the 1-0 victory.
PAOK’s owner was to cost his team dearly as it emerged Savvidis had been carrying a gun when he entered the pitch to contest the decision and reportedly threatened the official. The Greek Super League was initially suspended, and PAOK were later deducted three points, while AEK were awarded three points and would go on to lift the title.
For Vieirinha, the story was a driving force behind PAOK’s resurgence this year, during which the team is undefeated with one match remaining and on course for a league and cup double for the first time in the club’s history.