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Bolton legend reveals he rejected “dream” Liverpool move despite Rafa Benitez’s calls “every singly day”

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Stelios Giannakopoulos reveals he rejected Liverpool and Manchester City transfers for Bolton Wanderers stay

Bolton Wanderers legend Stelios Giannakopoulos came close to joining Liverpool in 2005, with Manchester City also trying to sign the Greek star some 17 years back. However, it did not materialise.

That is according to the man himself, who told the BBC Wanderer Podcast (h/t Manchester Evening News) that Sam Allardyce played a big role in keeping him at Bolton despite temptations from the Reds.

“Liverpool is a different story [as compared to Man City in 2000s]. Liverpool in 2005 I was very, very flattered because Rafa Benitez, he was calling me every single day and he knew that I had a buyout clause of £1m in my contract.”

Rafael Benitez was apparently keen on landing him back then. The context of that time must be understood. Bolton finished the 2004/05 season in sixth place, above Man City in eighth.

Stelios Giannakopoulos reveals he rejected Liverpool and Manchester City transfers for Bolton Wanderers stay
Stelios Giannakopoulos of Bolton in action against Liverpool. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

The Reds, meanwhile, were Champions of Europe after beating AC Milan in Istanbul. The Greek winger had entered into his 30s and with a paltry release clause, caught the eye of LFC.

“For Liverpool, £1m or £2m or this kind of price are very low prices and very good money to sign a player like me for this kind of money. Obviously, that was a big temptation for me in those days in 2005.”

No move to LFC for the Greek winger

He says that he was convinced by Big Sam to renew his contract for three more years. He then claims that the Reds were somewhat of a ‘dream’ club for him but he chose to stay in Greater Manchester.

“…Liverpool was a big club and it was a big dream for every player to play in such a club, I was convinced by Big Sam to renew my contract for three more years and stay with the club and commit my future to the club.”

Stelios Giannakopoulos reveals he rejected Liverpool and Manchester City transfers for Bolton Wanderers stay
Stylianos Giannakopoulos eyes the ball during a game for Greece. (Photo by JOHANNES SIMON/AFP via Getty Images)

The Reds started the season with the likes of Luis Garcia, Robbie Fowler, Fernando Morientes, Harry Kewell, Djibril Cisse, and Peter Crouch. So perhaps, the Greek star would have believed that a starting berth wouldn’t be guaranteed to him.

The Bolton-based side was, after all, a very good outfit back then, as compared to their current League One status. The Reds finished third in the PL season that followed, while Bolton were 8th.

Giannakopoulos moved to Hull City in 2008 and after a few months there, moved to AE Larisa in Greece, where he went on to retire from the game. With 177 games for Bolton, 77 caps for his national team and 275 appearances for Olympiacos- he is rightly regarded as a legend for these three teams.

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Perhaps he could have won a few trophies had he joined the Reds, but he chose to stay at the club he appreciated- and this is something our fans would respect about him.