Soccer-Zagorakis announces retirement, set to take over at PAOK

ATHENS, June 15 (Reuters) - Former Greece captain Theodoros Zagorakis has announced the end of his playing career in order to put together a consortium of investors to take over his current club PAOK.

The 35-year-old, who captained Greece to victory at Euro 2004, said he expected to take control of the club on Monday.

“Taking into account the settlement of the debts, I am in a position to announce that as of Monday June 18, I will be running the club,” he said in a statement.

“I think it is high time I retired although it was a very difficult decision. It took endless hours of reflection,” Zagorakis added.

The Thessaloniki-based PAOK has been in financial difficulty for several years and last season was refused entry into the UEFA Cup after failing to provide the necessary financial documentation.

Zagorakis was adamant that certain club debts be written off by the Greek state.

“I must stress categorically that if by July 18 the promises which have been given to me by the state are not realised then I will withdraw,” he said.

As a player, Zagorakis made his name with PAOK in the mid-1990s before moving to Leicester City, who were then in the English Premier League.

He had spells at AEK Athens and Bologna in Italy before returning to PAOK in 2005. He quit international football last October with 119 caps.

Super League champions Olympiakos Piraeus have also announced changes to their administration with Petros Kokkalis, son of club owner Socrates Kokkalis, taking over as the club’s managing director.

Petros Kokkalis has stepped down as chairman of the Super League with Panathinaikos owner Yiannis Vardinoyiannis taking over for the next year.