Marinos Satsias, APOEL FC's longest-serving player, has announced that he has called time on his glittering 18-year career that brought 20 Cypriot domestic trophies and took him to the Santiago Bernabéu.
Holding midfielder Satsias was picked up from lower league Apollon Lympion FC, and since making his debut as a 17-year-old in 1995 has been a regular for the Nicosia club ever since. Precision passing and a heroic work-rate have been the captain's calling cards in a career in which he won seven league titles, five Cypriot Cups and eight Super Cups in just under 300 appearances. The 35-year-old also has 65 caps for Cyprus and believes now is the time to call it a day on his playing career come the end of this season.
"The decision [to retire] was very difficult," he told the club's official website. "I decided around February and looking back now I believe I have done the right thing... I thank God for helping me at a club that gave me so much joy and so many memorable moments."
Despite his impressive medal haul during his time in Nicosia, Satsias remembers most fondly his second-half appearance as a substitute against Real Madrid CF when his side famously reached the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, a historic achievement in Cypriot football.
"My best moment was at the Santiago Bernabéu," Satsias said. "It was a feeling that I believe none of us will experience again, although I still hope other players of APOEL go on to enjoy moments like that. We had all achieved something unique because none of us ever imagined in our wildest dreams that we would be playing in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
"Other moments include our great run in Europe back in 2002 [in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers and then UEFA Cup], the first time we reached the Champions League group stage [2009/10] and my first experiences when we won domestic titles."
Satsias's role in the team began being confined to the bench as his career began winding down in the last couple of years but fans and team-mates alike still hold him in the highest regard. "Those successes are very satisfying because it's great to see all the hard work you put in over an entire season pay off," he said. "There is no better feeling than being a champion and I talk from experience here. Only those who have experienced being a champion know what I mean."
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