Stelios Giannakopoulos is proud of the small part he played in Bolton Wanderers’ modern history, having revealed his high ambitions from when he first joined the club.
The Greek international midfielder made 177 appearances and scored 28 goals during his five years at The Reebok Stadium from 2003 to 2008, and remains a firm fan favourite amongst the Whites faithful.
And during a recent visit back to Macron Stadium, the 43-year-old reflected on his time at the club and how much it still means to him.
“I spent five years here and had a great time, not only on the pitch but off it as well,” Stelios told bwfc.co.uk. “My family and I were always made welcome by the club and by the fans.
“You cannot win this love from the fans on day one. You have to work hard and perform week in, week out. You need results too and I think we did exceptionally well.
“It’s always nice to come back to Bolton. I have a lot of friends here and great memories.
“The club gave me the chance to come here and to play at Macron Stadium so it always nice to come back and remember the old times.
“We had great days when I played here and I hope that the club can establish themselves in the Championship this year and maybe one day get back to the Premier League.
“I’ve visited the stadium two or three times now and it is very special to me. The reception means a lot, it’s priceless. I would like to thank all the fans for this welcome. I give my love back to them."
A member of the Bolton side that reached the Carling Cup Final and twice qualified for Europe during the mid-noughties, Stelios remembers his time with the club fondly and, like many players from that era, is proud of the legacy he helped leave behind.
He said: “It meant a lot to play for this club. The responsibility was big because we built a reputation and had to perform week in, week out.
“Not only for yourself but for the fans and the shirt because the history of the club is very heavy.
“Everyone who wears this shirt has to give the maximum 100% to satisfy the demands of themselves and the fans too.
“The walls in the dressing room said 'Let’s create history together' and I remember wondering if one day I would be part of that history of the club.
“We qualified for Europe twice, which was a completely new experience for the fans, and we made this club a big hit.
“We got to the Carling Cup Final and had a great run even though we didn’t manage to win the trophy.
“We managed to establish them as one of the top eight clubs in the Premier League. I remember some great wins, especially against Arsenal.”
Stelios continued: “We were a very good and solid team. It was a massive boost for a club like Bolton to establish themselves in the top eight for at least three years.
“It’s very emotional thinking that myself and the other lads are a very small piece of history for the club. I am very proud of achieving that.
“I always aim high. I signed for the club in order to get the best out of me and to help the club reach even bigger targets. I want to be remembered as a player who gave 101% in every game.
“This is the most important thing for all footballers and is what the club deserves. I think that if you go back in the history books of the Wanderers, you will see we made an impact.”