"We did not underestimate Panathinaikos, a Champions League's semi final is always important and the first leg in Amsterdam was very difficult. They defended well, played for the result, we did not create many chances and they managed to win by 1-0. However, we still believed that we would advanced to the final, because one year ago we had to beat Bayern Munich 5-2 at second leg in order to qualify, after a goalless draw in the first match.
We had done it again, the previous season we had also won 2-0 at AC Milan and Real Madrid's stadiums, with their fans cheering us. In spite of the negative result, we knew that we had the quality to advance to the final. In Athens, I played again as second striker, behind Nwankwo Kanu, not as attacking midfielder behind two forwards as in the first game, and that made the difference.
I remember the sold out in the Olympic Stadium of Athens, the atmosphere was incredible, a real dream for every player to be in such an important clash in front of so many fans. We were lucky for scoring in the 4th minute and putting all the pressure to Panathinaikos, since then it was almost certain that we would control the tempo of the game.
Manager Louis van Gaal had not told me something special, my job was just coming from behind and scoring goals, just as I did. Panathinaikos were an excellent, well-organized team, with real quality, and they deserved to be in the semi finals. However, AFC Ajax were incredibly strong back then, an amazing, marvelous side with great talent and team spirit.
We all wanted to help our teammates play better and that was the real difference, it seems funny to me that the fans of Olympiakos cheered me because I scored against their rivals, so greetings to all of them. My compatriot of Panathinaikos, Robin Lod, is a talented, all-around player of our country's new generation, with professionalism, and I hope that he will have a solid career abroad.
I remember an interesting story about Robin Lod, I was playing along him when we were members of Helsingin Jalkapalloklubi five years ago, he came from the bench and scored a second-half goal at his debut, I like his style", said the 45-year-old Finnish at his SDNA interview.