Pantelis Hatzidiakos was born in Rhodes, moved to the Netherlands as a teenager and soon joined AZ. His football career on Dutch soil quickly got off the ground thanks to the efforts of his mother.
The son of a Greek father and a Dutch mother played in Greece in the youth of Panathinaikos. When Greece was hit by an economic crisis, the Hatzidiakos family decided to try their luck in the Netherlands. His mother quickly got to work, tells the now 24-year-old AZ defender to Football International. “When it was clear that we were leaving Greece, my mother started sending e-mails to Dutch professional clubs. In it she introduced me, with my height and weight, my training at Panathinaikos and everything.”
PSV, Ajax, sc Heerenveen and AZ were approached by mother Hatzidiakos, who received comments from Eindhoven and Alkmaar. “PSV responded after a month, that I could do an internship. At AZ it went faster. I was immediately invited to a training week and that went well,” says the defender, who would join AZ. “Our first home in the Netherlands was Den Helder. Then Alkmaar is good to do by bus.”
Meanwhile, the Greek international has been around AZ for more than ten years and is standing at 110 matches on behalf of the first team. Hatzidiakos is still grateful to the club. “I wondered if I would make new friends, if I would ever feel at home. In that respect too, AZ has been very important to me. When I was at the club, I felt good. Then there was no language barrier, the football language speaks everyone.” His parents also had a lot of use to AZ. “They were immediately allowed to work as drivers of the vans in the training. Pick up and drop off youth players. Later, they found other jobs. But this gave them a nice start in the Netherlands.”