Olympiacos Legends Interview: Nery Alberto Castillo
Nery Castillo is undoubtedly one of the most iconic players to wear the red and white jersey. As a 16 year old, he joined Olympiacos in the summer of 2000 from the youth team of Uruguayan side, Danubio. Before joining, he had spent time on trial with Manchester United but failed to secure a work permit. Thank you, United Kingdom and your distinct rules!
Nery went on to play for Olympiacos for 7 years. His blistering pace, together with his ability on the ball, his determination and eye for goal meant he became an instant hit with the fans and Gate 7 Ultras. He went on to wear the legendary number 7 jersey in homage to them. In all of our hearts, as Olympiacos fans, there is a special place reserved for Nery. He wore his heart on his sleeve and left everything out on the field. His flair and his passion embodied all the ideals that represent Olympiacos and make the club what it is.
We are delighted and grateful that Nery agreed to give this exclusive interview to Gate 7 International. So, without further ado, let's get to it!
G7I: What's the story behind your transfer to Olympiacos?
Nery: Olympiacos saw me at a tournament where I was playing with the Uruguayan Under 15s team. At the time, Mr. Louvaris made an offer to my father and that was how things started, My transfer from Danubio to Olympiacos went through and I came to Greece.
G7I: Who was your footballing idol growing up?
Nery: Ronaldo, the "fenomeno".
G7I: From your career, what games do you remember most vividly?
Nery: For sure the games against Panathinaikos, AEK and PAOK when the stadium was full. Those were my favourite games.
G7I: Favourite goal you've scored?
Nery: The goal against Brazil that I scored with Mexico during the 2007 Copa America.
G7I: After you left Olympiacos for Shakhtar Donetsk, were there ever any discussions about you coming back?
Nery: Yes, there were. I was close to sealing my return. We had agreed terms but the President of Shakhtar wouldn't let me go back to Olympiacos. So it didn't go through.
G7I: Were there any discussions or thoughts about you playing for the Greek national team?
Nery: There were some discussions but in the end I couldn't play for the national team because I couldn't get Greek citizenship.
G7I: Who was your favourite coach and who were your favourite team mates (including outside Olympiakos)?
Nery: Hugo Sanchez, he was my coach with the Mexican national team and at Pachuca in Mexico. There are a lot of good team mates I had in my career but if I had to name one, it would be Giovanni.
G7I: If you could play a match again, which one would it be?
Nery: Any game with Olympiacos so that I can hear the fans singing.
G7I: Do you follow Olympiacos now? Who's your favourite player on the team?
Nery: Yes! El Arabi and Valbuena. They make a difference.
G7I: What does Olympiacos need to progress further in European competition?
Nery: To progress further in European competitions you need more players in the team that can "make a difference".
G7I: Have you thought about getting involved with football in a non-playing role?
Nery: I would like that as football is what I love. But I am not the type of person that would ask others to give me a role or put me somewhere. I never did that in the past and I won't start doing that now either. I'd like to get involved with the youth because I believe in Greece we need to put more effort in this direction. We produce very little from the youth academies. I come from a country that works a lot from the youth academy level and produces a lot of players. Uruguay. It's very important for a club to be able to produce its own home grown talent.
G7I: Will you share a couple of words about our mutual friend, Peter Philipakos?
Nery: Peter and I played together back in the day. He's a really good guy and a really good player. He's the kind of player I was talking about before. Peter had a lot of really good footballing characteristics but here in Greece they didn't know how to give him the opportunity. Back then it was more difficult than it is now. Back then we had really good players. If Peter was somewhere else, for example a country in Latin America, he would have had a bigger career. We still talk with Philipakos and we remember the times we spent together.
Big thank you to Nery for taking the time to answer our questions. The interview also features in Greek on our website.