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Meet & Greet with Kostas Tsimikas: A journey and the football experience of a lifetime

Even the smallest act of love can make a big difference for our fellow citizens

Novibet’s “Giant Heart” social contribution program gave the opportunity to two lucky people to live the football experience of their lives: to meet Giant Heart’s Ambassador, international footballer Kostas Tsimikas, and to watch the biggest derby in the UK, between Manchester United and Liverpool.

The lucky winners were selected through a contest on Giant Heart’s social media, which was organized in collaboration with Prosport.


The travel journal

The first day of the trip to England was particularly demanding, but at the same time full of unique moments. Upon arrival at Manchester airport, the destination was of course the “theater of dreams”, Old Trafford stadium. The match was scheduled for 15:30 (UK time), but if someone wants to get a whiff of the English Championship, it is necessary for them to be there 2-3 hours before the match, in order to understand what this eternal rivalry means to British fans.

The surrounding area of the stadium was already full of people shouting slogans and street vendors selling scarves and jerseys, adding color to the scene and creating anticipation for what was to come. British fans have their own culture, and that impressed the Giant Heart contest winners who were visiting a stadium in the UK for the first time.

After the must-have photos in front of the statues of Sir Matt Busby, Sir Alex Ferguson and the “Holy Trinity” of the Red Devils, our winners headed towards the stadium gate leading to “The 100 Club” where a buffet with food and drinks awaited them. And what better warm-up for the big derby could be than… some more football: the Scottish derby  between Rangers and Celtic was playing on the TVs, turning the venue into a quirky pub full of United fans.

About an hour before the match, the winners made their way to their seats, passing in front of the canteen of their gate, where beer was flowing in abundance! What came next was pure awe, as the view of the legendary stadium alone left them speechless. The light rain that was picking up added to the ideal atmosphere for the UK’s biggest derby, as the stands were filled with crowds of people.

The match exceeded expectations and the final tie of 2-2 clearly reflected the unprecedented football experience that the winners of the competition lived. The day ended with a transfer to the city of Liverpool where another great experience would follow.

The second day of the trip brought a meeting with Kostas Tsimikas, the Greek footballer playing at the highest possible level over the recent years. The appointment with Kostas was in Kirkby, an area close to the Reds training ground.

Kostas arrived in good spirits and spent more than two hours in the company of the winners, answering every wild question they had about his daily life in Liverpool, his hard training and even the elusive accent of the scousers, for whom Tsimikas has become a beloved figure. Most people noticed him in the venue, with the more daring ones approaching to ask for photos. And of course the Greek Scouser didn’t give a no for an answer.

At the same time, he was also very thoughtful for the winners of the contest, to whom he offered a tremendous gift for the effort they put to come and meet him in person: a jersey with his signature!

After the necessary recommendations from “scouser” Kostas about the must-visit parts of the city, our winners headed downtown. Their destination was Matthew Street, where the Cavern Club is located, the club where the Beatles started their career. The visit to the museum was a must, followed by a walk through the streets of the city.

The third day was equally special for the contest winners, who had the opportunity to visit the stadium of their favorite UK team, Liverpool, for the first time. The tour of “Anfield” started from the 6th floor of the stadium, with Jurgen Klopp taking on the role of the tour guide through an introductory video.

The tour continued inside the base of the Reds, where some of the most glorious football moments in Europe have taken place. Our winners had the chance to visit the place where the classic flash interviews for the British TV are made, the press conference room which was dressed in the colors of the Europa League and even the dressing room, where the coach prepares his team before each match. The players’ jerseys were in their glove boxes, and a huge Reds badge on the floor prepared the visitors for what was about to come.

Again a moment of awe, as the winners saw the legendary ‘This is Anfiled’ sign, the last thing the players see before they hit the pitch that only the Reds’ champions are allowed to touch. After all these, a walk in front of the benches led to the museum of the club’s bright history.

The 6 Champions League trophies, the 19 English championships, the countless moments of history filled the visitors with images, from Steven Gerrard’s shirt in the final in Istanbul, up to the Cup trophy that the Reds won thanks to Tsimika’s last penalty.

“This experience will always have a special place in our hearts”, said the winners after all the impressive moments they had, as within 72 hours they had the opportunity to be in the heart of the two biggest clubs in the UK and meet Giant Heart’s social contribution ambassador.

Kostas, with the warmth of his hospitality made sure that they also feel Liverpool as their home for a while. All of course with the help of a Giant Heart that makes dreams come true!


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