In nine months time the city of Rome will be overrun with babies named Konstantinos.
Konstantinos ‘Kostas’ Manolas’s 82nd minute header to put Roma 3-0 up against Barcelona and through to the Champions League semi-finals once more proved football has no rhyme or reason.
Listen closely and you can still here the Eternal City partying.
You now won’t be able to go ten steps in Rome without a Manolas shirt, tattoo or baby being shoved in your face.
Although Manolas might not score often- finding the back of the net roughly every 19 games for club and country- he knows how to pick his moments.
In fact, prior to that flick of the forehead against Barcelona, Manolas’ proudest goal was his very first.
On 16 June 2009 Manolas left Thrasyvoulos (try typing that on a phone without looking) and signed for AEK Athens, the team he’d grown up supporting.
It was a proud moment that saw Kostas follow in the footsteps of his uncle Stelios who’d spent his entire career at AEK, playing more than 400 games.
Indeed, when Manolas arrived he said: “I am very happy signing for the team I support, hopefully I can be a legend at the club like my uncle and end my career at AEK.”
Fast forward 11 months and arch-rivals Olympiacos were strolling into town with five straight Greek Superleague titles bulging out of their trophy cabinet.
It was Manolas’ 25th game for AEK so he was still finding his feet at one of Greece’s biggest clubs.
He was asked to mark Kostas Mitroglou, who was regarded as the future of Greek football and untainted by a future three-game stint at Fulham.
The game couldn’t have got off to a worse start.
Manolas clashed with Mitroglou in the very first minute of the game, with the defender breaking a cheekbone in the clash.
But he refused to come off, instead staying on the pitch to score his first professional goal in the sixth minute of the game and put AEK ahead.
Start the flares.
Nine minutes later the pain got too much and Manolas was forced off the pitch.
But this was a derby and Manolas was an AEK fanatic at the end of the day.
He refused to go to hospital until the game finished, only accepting treatment after watching AEK win 2-1.
A day later he underwent a three-hour surgery to repair the damage. Cult hero status confirmed.
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