Former Greek football star gives hope to refugees

Former Greek international goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis has helped start a football team that brings together refugees from Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Photo by: AP Archive
Photo by: AP Archive

Players of Hope Refugee Football Club celebrate a goal during a match in western Athens, February 5, 2017.

Football fans of a certain age may still remember Antonios Nikopolidis for his resemblance to American actor George Clooney –  and as the goalkeeper who helped Greece become surprise European Champions in 2004.

Now the country's national youth team coach, Nikopolidis is also helping refugees stranded in Greece regain a sense of purpose.

He's helped start a football club that brings together refugees who fled war zones in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan.

It's called 'Elpida', the Greek word for hope.

Former Greek football star Antonios Nikopolidis during a Greek Superleague game in Athens, March 21, 2010. (AP Archive)

Most of Elpida's players live in Skaramangas, an industrial zone west of Athens, where metal containers have been turned into shoe box-shaped homes.

They compete in an amateur league on Sundays, facing teams made up of lawyers, telecom workers and accountants.

TRT World's Christine Pirovolakis has their story.

TRTWorld and agencies