One of the biggest Greek talents of the last decade, Panagiotis Vassilopoulos, will return to action this Saturday hoping that this time, his multiple injuries will not hold him back.
It was back in 2001 when P.A.O.K. acquired the young forward who seemed to be the best talent at his position and was ready to create a big team based on him and Loukas Mavrokefalidis. After 4 years Olympiacos stepped in and signed Vassilopoulos for 250.000 euro. The first years in Piraeus were ideal for him since with his great appearances and his passion soon became one of the favorite players of the fans and at the same time he was crowned European Champion with Greek National Team in 2005. While on top of his game he had stated that “Olympiacos is one of the best teams in Europe and for me is the best. Soon we will reach the top if we keep working hard”
His predictions were accurate but unfortunately for him, his luck ran out. While his team was part of the Berlin Final 4 in 2009, with Vassilopoulos undergoing one of his best seasons, a serious back pain that did not allow him even to sit down, forced him to stay out of the squad. This pain was a result of intense training and hard work. At that point, the Greek player went through many surgeries and everyone expected him to return stronger and better. However a serious knee injury forced him to stay out of action for one and a half year from 2011 to 2013, confessing that he was very close to retiring but had a bet with himself that the multiple injuries will not put an end on his big career. Olympiacos was crowned European Champions in 2011 with Spanoulis and Printezis asking Vassilopoulos to join them during the award ceremony. It was meant to be the last big moment this player experienced with the team that made him famous.
In 2013 he moved to Spain hoping to recover and help Valladolid achieve their goals, alongside Dimitris Charitopoulos. His passion and love for the sport was not enough since once again pain stood on his way and this time forced him to take a long break and stay away from action. After one year when he even tested his skills in politics, he returned to basketball as a player of Ermis Piraeus and from April of 2014 until the end of the season he tried to be back in shape and ready to return to where he belongs. Earlier this season A.E.N.Kifissias signed the player and after many training sessions, the time came for him to step on the courts of Greek Basket League this weekend, facing Panionios.
We can only hope that the player remains healthy and even at the age of 30, he can offer big help to his club, this time beating the injuries of the past that proved to be his biggest opponents.