Football rivalry between clubs in Greece can be quite bitter and, on some occasions, extreme. But following the historic victory by Olympiacos FC against Italy’s Fiorentina on Wednesday evening in Athens, the president of the Piraeus club, Evangelos Marinakis, made unifying statements dedicating the UEFA Conference League trophy to all Greeks, expressing optimism that other teams would follow in the footsteps of the Reds.

Marinakis also dedicated the victory to his late father, Miltiades, the late Savvas Theodoridis – a football legend of the club who passed way four years ago – and “all those kids” he said he remembered seeing leave, disappointed, from Olympiacos’ clinch matches over the years.

He made special mention of the club’s U-19 team, which recently won the UEFA Youth League, and his friend, Spanish coach Ernesto Valverde, wishing to extend perfect hospitality to him next year in Bilbao for the Europa League final. Valverde is the manager of Athletic Bilbao.

Marinakis also thanked the AEK FC officials for their hospitality and in organizing the final at the Opap Arena, in partnership with UEFA.

The president of Olympiacos FC stressed that:

“For so many years, 99 years, all the Olympiacos fans have been singing about ‘a crazy dream.’ A dream of a European title. Since I was young and traveled, I had memories of children coming from all over the world. Leaving disappointed, crying, due to certain unfortunate moments, certain bad moments. Whether it was in Italy, Piraeus, Athens, the Olympic Stadium, England, or Spain.

When I took over Olympiacos — because you can’t say I bought Olympiacos FC — Olympiacos can’t be purchased, it’s something huge. It’s an idea. Anyway, when I got involved with Olympiacos, my dream was to see those kids happy. Because they deserve it. For all those journeys. For all those moments. And (my dream was) to achieve a great European run. So today it’s no longer ‘a crazy dream,’ it’s a reality. Here in Greece, on Greek soil.

I want to say that we had very good hospitality from everyone in Nea Philadelphia (a municipality in northwest Athens) and I want to thank them for that. Today, all of Greece will celebrate. It was something we owed to all Greeks and to the children who have passed away. To my father, above all; and to Savvas Theodoridis; to Gate 7, those kids. The Cup will leave after the Municipal Theater and go there. And tomorrow to my father and to Savvas. They deserve it.

These are moments of emotion, moments of great joy, and we continue. Not just to dream, but we continue to rise higher.

(It’s not personal) It’s a collective vindication. We are lucky because usually, the dish of vindication is eaten cold. Today we ate it hot. We are all here, emotional, and we move forward.

Golden age… We are starting… The next one could be the Europa League. And you saw what our young players did this year, which I’ve said many times are not really young. (The opponents) are 17, 18, 19 years old who play in the first teams, and the teams we beat had five players, three players, two players, six players in the first teams. Teams that win championships. Inter, for example, in Italy. AC Milan. Bayern. Anyway, we are very happy for these kids who showed their talent. They won the Youth League, the Champions League for Youth, and I sincerely enjoy seeing these young Greeks progress. We will stand by them, we will support them to continue to excel.

Yes, I had dreamed of these moments. And you know something. I had told the captains—I said it to the coach and to all the people who are next to me every day and work hard for what you saw today, this success. I said this. That we should all focus, not think of anything else. Only victory, nothing else exists. If you focus, want it badly, and believe it, you will do it and you will do it successfully. They listened. And I had said the same to the Youth two rounds ago. If they focus, they know they can do it. And you know, when you reach a final and have beaten many teams, Champions League teams, you know you can do it. It’s not a dream, it’s a reality where you have to pay attention to the last detail to achieve it. Today we would not lose, especially in Greece. This was something that had to be imparted to our associates and players. You saw the result.

We are all particularly happy, emotional. And you see what is happening in Piraeus and all over Greece and all over the world, because right now there is chaos in America and Australia. Or in Germany, in England. These people deserved it, is it three? Is it four? Is it five million in Greece? Is it one, two [million] worldwide? But today not only are they happy. All Greeks everywhere in the world are happy because we did this above all for Greece and we had the positive aura of all Greeks. And we did it on our own. Without help. And not only without help but also against many. It doesn’t matter to get into this today. Today we all celebrate together and we celebrate united. All of Greece.

All Greeks must understand that Olympiacos made the beginning. Usually, people remember the last one. The one who won now. We made a start and this is very important for the country because I am sure that in the years to come there will be other teams that will achieve it.

The dream now is a Europa League. We cannot repeat it next year because the system has changed and we will play in the Europa League. In Bilbao (where the final will be held next year) it’s very good because it is a hospitable city, Ernesto (Valverde) [Olympiacos former coach] is there. He was here with us today, celebrating like a die-hard Olympiacos fan. He is a person who is a very good friend of mine, I have him in my heart. He is above all a person and an excellent coach. One of the best coaches in the world.

Be well. We celebrate. Long live Greece. Long live Olympiacos. Long live our Piraeus.”