An American YouTuber got the experience of a lifetime attending a soccer game in Athens, Greece on Wednesday.
“Emekareacts,” with over 34,000 subscribers on YouTube, went to watch the AEK Athens-PAOK Thessaloniki match at the newly built OPAP Arena stadium, the home ground of the Athenian club.
“This game had some of the best atmospheres that I’ve ever seen,” Emekareacts says. “This is one of the best stadiums I have seen,” he adds.
Emekareacts is seen celebrating with AEK fans each time the home side scores during the 4-0 win against PAOK. He is interacting with the crowd and he seems knowledgeable about Greek soccer.
Before the game, he is seen mingling with the AEK fans at cafes near the stadium, and he also visited a boutique selling the team’s paraphernalia.
AEK and PAOK, giants of soccer in Greece share the same roots
The AEK-PAOK clash is known as the double-headed eagles derby as both teams have the same roots, being refugees from Constantinople after the Greco-Turkish War, the Asia Minor Catastrophe and the population exchange.
Both teams use the same emblem (double-headed eagle) to remember the Byzantine Empire, but in different colors (black and yellow for AEK, black and white for PAOK).
Memories of Pontus and Asia Minor dominated the spectacular opening of OPAP Arena in October 2022.
More than thirty thousand fans gathered at OPAP Arena in the Athenian suburb of Nea Philadelphia to watch a dazzling display of song and dance that brought back memories of the Hellenism that was uprooted one hundred years ago by the Turks.
Construction of an all-new purpose-built stadium began on July 28, 2017 at the site of the old Nikos Goumas stadium. It has a capacity of approximately thirty thousand and features a unique underground road system that the teams can use to enter the stadium.
The previous soccer ground Nikos Goumas Stadium served as AEK’s home ground since 1930. The stadium suffered severe damage from the 1999 earthquake and was demolished in 2003 with the prospect of building a new stadium for AEK FC.
Prolonged obstruction, legal issues, and tight deadlines contributed to the postponement of the new stadium opening.
AEK Athens was established in Athens in 1924 by Greek refugees from Constantinople, Smyrna, and Pontus. OPAP Arena was also given the symbolic name of Hagia Sophia in honor of the great Orthodox cathedral in Constantinople, today’s Istanbul, that was turned into a mosque.
AEK is currently sharing the top spot in the Greek Superleague with Panathinaikos, while PAOK is in fourth place.