How did the mag get started?
It was like a dream come true. Being the New Media Director my main task was the digital growth of the club. But magazines were my… weakness, and my ambition was to combine the digital era with the never fading characteristic smell of the paper.
I proposed to create a magazine from scratch, the challenge set by the board was to make it the best ever printed in Greece, I accepted it and Toumba Magazine was born.
I chose to work with a really small group of top professionals so I could form the philosophy of the magazine as I wanted (meaning I had to write most of the articles), and gave the name after our vintage but beautiful Toumba Stadium. It’s a work I’m really proud of and I would never change the heartbreak, the anxiety and sleepless nights it offered (and still offers) me.
What other mags inspired you?
Our main inspiration is the club itself and its special culture. There are a lot of really great magazines like Soccerbible, Rabona, Panenka, 8by8, Howler, Pickles, Mundial, Glory but as anybody can see reading Toumba Magazine we tried to bring our own ideas and philosophy to football magazines.
What do you try to achieve in your issues?
We’re trying to upgrade the image of the club through a very modern, minimal and highly aesthetic design combined with high quality articles and interviews. We want to present a different approach to football.
We want to highlight the human side of our players, make the fans bond with them reading their life stories, details of their everyday routine and unknown facts of their life.
Thus, our ambition is to educate a new generation of fans, to make them love PAOK and understand the club’s philosophy through our magazine. In order to achieve this, it’s important to have fresh ideas, powerful images and a clear visual identity that combines modern design with old school football and good articles.
How would you describe football culture in Greece?
In one word? Difficult. And definitely emotional. Often too emotional. Mostly it’s all about winning at all costs. Big clubs like PAOK are not allowed to lose, so the pressure is huge.
The stadiums are not full since the economic crisis and the corruption have given interest a big blow. Greeks are very noisy creating fantastic atmosphere at the derbies. The matchday ritual includes pregame with coffee or beer and street food next to the stadium and the postgame is held at radio shows with fans taking over as experienced coaches indicating what the real coach did wrong and their team lost!!
Is there much of a crossover between fashion and football culture?
It’s a growing trend. Not always successful. More and more often you see clothing companies inspired from football culture and at the same time, football kits and apparel follow street fashion style.
I believe Beckham was the one that changed the status and managed to combine football and fashion. Nowadays football players are considered style icons. Don’t ask me if the are actually stylish though…
The gun incident, what was your reaction?
As you know, an image can change the world and the story of a villain is more attractive than a success story. People from all around the world think that our president pointed the gun to the referee. Nice headline, but false news.
All this was based on a photo and there is no villain. It was an emotional outburst after a referee mistake that could deprive PAOK of a well deserved league title after 33 years. Mr. Savvidis never threatened anyone. He is a businessman that fights corruption, receives death threats and has invested a lot of money in football.
So, it had no reaction since no one saw the gun, other than in the photo. Mr. Savvidis made a mistake and apologized. The rest is politics. I work almost 20 years in football and I know what real threats are. I’ve received some myself…
What other initiatives/projects do you have planned?
During the four years I’ve been at the club me and my team created the new official website which was awarded as the best website in Greece, the new PAOK FC Official App, we published Toumba Magazine which received three National Awards and a Silver Award at European Design Awards 2016. We built a very clear visual identity to match our outgoing New Media policy, we launched the PAOK TV platform and we continue to enhance our features.
Right now, we are designing the total rebranding of PAOK FC New Media visual identity, a new portal about the special bond between PAOK and Thessaloniki, a new PAOK Football Quiz App and a fresh sound and music platform that is going to present the playlists of our players, podcasts, live interviews, game commentary and a lot more…
Any memories of Greece in 2004?
A lot and vivid! How can you forget a dream? Nobody ever believed that we would go so far, ending as Champions! It was an incredible period for the whole country and especially for us who love and work for football.
Everybody was crying like babies, celebrating all night in the streets. It was a month of partying for the whole of Greece. Moments that I’ll never forget as long as I live.