Giorgos Donis is expected in Cyprus today to sign a deal to become APOEL’s new coach.
The former Greek international will take charge of first team affairs for the rest of the season, replacing Portuguese coach Paulo Sergio who was sacked last week following the 3-0 Europa league defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt that capped a disappointing start to the season for the Nicosia side.
Donis is already familiar with a number of players in the current APOEL squad having previously worked with the Brazilains Gustavo Manduca at AEK and Marcelo Oliveira during his spell at Atromitos, and Cypriot internationals Stathis Aloneftis and Nektarios Alexandrou during their stints at Larissa.
Donis’ willingness to work with the current squad is reportedly one of the main factors that swung the APOEL board to favour his appointment over Israeli boss Ronny Levy. Earlier reports suggested that a deal had been in place for Levy and that a substantial financial package had been agreed but the Israeli’s pre-contract stipulation to be able to strengthen the squad in the January transfer window lead the board to a rethink over his appointment.
The club denies that the negative reaction to the potential appointment of Levy on fans’ sites and other social media influenced their decision-making.
Another factor that influenced the board to choose Donis over Levy is that he is a Greek speaker, and his ability to easily communicate with the majority of his players.
Assuming the contract signing formalities are completed without a hitch Donis will take charge for APOEL’s league game away at Ernis.
As manager, Donis won promotion to the Greek first division with Larissa in 2005 and lead them to a surprise victory in the Greek Cup in 2007 with a side – featuring Aloneftis and former Omonia striker Josef Kozlej – beat Panathinaikos 2-1. He also succeeded in taking Atromitos to the final of the Greek Cup in 2011 and 2012.
He has also coached Ilisiakos, PAOK and AEK Athens in which he came under fire after his side were eliminated by Omonia back in 2008.
Nicknamed “Greece Lightning” during his playing days because of his electric pace, Donis was a consistent performer as Panathinaikos and helped the Greek club reach the semi-finals of the Champions League back in 1996 where they eventually lost 3-1 on aggregate to Ajax.
The following season, he became the first Greek player to play in the Premier League when he joined Blackburn Rovers. He would later go on to play for Sheffield United and Huddersfield Town before returning to Greece to retire at AEK Athens

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