Paddy Mulligan on his Greek adventures with Panathinaikos

Former Ireland, Chelsea and West Brom defender spent some time coaching there in the early '80s

Panathinaikos, greece, stadium

Panathinaikos' Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium, Athens in 2003. John Walton/EMPICS Sport

Broadening horizons is often beneficial in football when it comes to both coaching and playing.

Former Ireland, Chelsea and West Brom right back Paddy Mulligan experienced that at the dawn of the '80s.

He had called time on his playing career all the way back in 1980 at Shamrock Rovers.

What followed then was a two year stint in Greece with one of the country's traditional Big Three clubs, Panathinaikos, as assistant manager as he reminisced with on Monday.

"I coached at Panathinaikos for two years from '80 to '82. The owner of the club ran the show," he said of the 1971 European Cup finalists, whose then coach (Real Madrid legend Ferenc Puskas) he had met before Chelsea took on Real in a Cup Winners Cup final in Athens in the same year.

"Ronnie Allen, who was my manager at West Brom after John Giles, rang me up out of the blue one day and I've got this job at Panathinaikos and 'Do you fancy coming over?' So over I went," said Paddy.

"We drew Juventus in the [UEFA] Cup in '80 and Liam Brady had just joined Juventus. They absolutely pulverised us in Turin 4-0."

While Greece didn't make a major footballing mark until their one-off European Championship victory in 2004, Paddy recalls a pretty decent level of play at the time in the country.

"They wanted to train and train and train really hard and run really hard. And yes, their technical ability was excellent and their touch on the ball like all Europeans - but especially with the Greeks - was absolutely brilliant. I was quite surprised by it. They could play," he said.

"But off the field activities didn't help them either and you just couldn't keep control of [the players]."

The Panathinainkos owner at the time was Yiorgos Vardinogiannis who was club president from 1979 all the way 2000.

Paddy had no illusion about who was boss at the Athens club back then.

"After that [Juventus] game, Ronnie Allen got the push. We were sitting on the plane and Yiorgos Vardinogiannis the owner of the club walked down the plane and he called me Patrick, and he just gave Ronnie Allen daggers looks," he recalled.

"And I remember Ronnie saying to me, 'I think we're gone'. And I said, 'Speak for yourself', as a quip. I was just having a bit of fun with him. 

"He sacked Ronnie the following day but under no circumstances would he let me go. Ronnie came to me and said 'He wants you to stay'. So after an hour long chat between Ronnie and myself, I said, 'OK, if that's how you feel about it, then I'll stay.'"

But he added Vardinogiannis was a "good man" when you got to know him.