Papa prays Roar season is a winner
ROAR defensive rock Avraam Papadopoulos is desperate to put a nightmare season behind him when the Brisbane kick off their 2018-19 A-League campaign against Central Coast Mariners at Suncorp Stadium next Sunday.
The 33-year-old centre-back has few happy memories of a 2017-18 season marred by injuries, suspension and being implicated in a betting scandal that rocked Greek football.
Papadopoulos was in March slapped with a suspended two-and-a-half year jail sentence by a Court of Appeal in Athens for allegedly illegally betting on matches during his time at Greek club Olympiacos.
Less than a week later his season was over when he suffered a badly broken ankle at training.
"I want to forget last season," Papadopoulos told The Sunday Mail.
"I just want to look forward now. I hope this season to stay on the field for the whole time and give my best for this team because from the start the people here have always supported me and I'm very grateful for that.
"I want to say thank you to our medical staff and of course to the boss John Aloisi and (assistant coach) Ross Aloisi because they stayed next to me from the beginning."
Papadopoulos again apologised for the spitting ban arising from an incident involving then Sydney FC striker Matt Simon last November. His indiscretion led to a seven-match suspension.
"It was my big mistake and I'm sorry about that," the former Greece international said.
Papadopoulos said he was appealing the suspended jail sentence.
"Everyone knows I have a very clear character. I didn't do anything wrong. If I did something wrong, the next day I would stop playing football," he said.
Papadopoulos, who only recently returned from his ankle injury, got a vital 90 minutes under his belt in an internal Roar trial on Thursday and is ready to go against the Mariners.
"We don't have serious injuries. It's important for us to stay on the pitch and to start the season well. The first game, it's very important to take the three points," he said.
"I've worked very hard all this time to be ready for the start of the season."
Papadopoulos, who joined the Roar in February 2017, and his young family have warmly embraced Brisbane.
"We love Australia and we love the city of Brisbane. The people are very friendly, we're very happy here and we enjoy our life," he said.
"I also feel good in the team because there's a very good atmosphere. My teammates are great, and so are the staff and the fans."
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