PAOK brought captain Vieirinha off the bench a week after he suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament just so he could be on the pitch as the club celebrated their first Greek Super League title in 34 years on Monday.
Portugal international Vieirinha, 33, sustained the injury in the 1-1 draw at Larissa last week, finding out a day later the severity of the issue, which will likely keep him out of action for at least six months.
But, with a first Super League title in a generation within touching distance, neither PAOK nor Vieirinha allowed the situation to ruin a historic moment.
PAOK made the unique decision to name him on the bench against already-relegated Levadiakos and then brought him in stoppage time of the 5-0 victory. Dimitri Pelkas vacated the field and passed on the captain’s armband to the 33-year old, who didn’t touch the ball and had his knee strapped up.
But the substitution, of course, was done so that Vieirinha would be on the pitch at the exact moment that the referee blew his whistle to end 34 years of heartache for PAOK.
Not the first time
From the moment he was injured, Vieirinha understood the extent of his injury, having ruptured his ACL once before in 2013 while playing for German Bundesliga outfit Wolfsburg in his second season at the club.
The unfortunate incident came in September of 2013 in a Cup match against VfR Aalen and he returned to action in April of 2014. Throughout his 199-day recovery program, Vieirinha missed a total of 50 matches across all competitions.
On this occasion, PAOK’s captain ruptured his right anterior cruciate ligament, when in 2013 the injury was suffered on his left knee. Irony would have it that in both instances at Wolfsburg and PAOK, Vieirinha suffered the injury in the 34th minute of the match!