If there were doubts about the motives
behind Rivaldo's move to Olympiakos last summer, the Brazilian dispelled
them with a series of superb performances that helped secure a league
and cup double for the Piraeus club.
The former Deportivo, Barcelona and AC Milan playmaker, who won the
World Cup with Brazil in 2002, arrived in Athens hoping to revive a
career faltering through injury.
Some sceptics said he had only come for the money but he has played so
well that even Pele said this month that he saw no reason why Rivaldo
should not be in Brazil's 2006 World Cup squad.
His tally of 12 league goals, including the decisive strike in the 1-0
win over Iraklis on Wednesday which sealed the title, and one glorious
strike in the 3-0 Cup final win over Aris Salonika, were reward for his
His impact off the field has also been telling, with the sale of shirts
bearing his name soaring.
Last year's champions Panathinaikos and AEK Athens pushed Olympiakos to
the limit, with all three in contention for the title going into the
final round of matches.
Off the field, Panathinaikos sacked two coaches during the season,
Itshak Shum and Zdenek Scasny, before settling on former Parma boss
But Fanis Gekkas, their mid-season signing from Kalllithea, proved a
masterstroke and he ended the season as top goalscorer, as well as
breaking into the national team.
AEK Athens were happy just to remain in existence after financial
difficulties in the close season led to the exit of five top players,
including Greece captain Theodoros Zagorakis, and the takeover of the
club by a consortium led by former player Demis Nikolaidis.
They escaped liquidation through Article 44, which legally allowed them
to write off a large part of their estimated 100 million euros debt, and
under Portuguese coach Fernando Sanchez finished third, three points
behind Olympiakos. They will compete in next season's UEFA Cup.
Nikolaidis's push to have a family section at AEK's home matches at the
Olympic Stadium did much to curb potential trouble but elsewhere the
season was marred by crowd violence.
At various stages of the season Olympiakos and Panathinaikos were
ordered to play behind closed doors.
In one incident in January the match between Panionios and Olympiakos
had to be postponed shortly before kick-off because of fighting between
The worst incident came in the penultimate round of the season when Aris
Salonika fans invaded the pitch and attacked two Iraklis players, both
of whom needed hospital treatment.
The match, which had to be abandoned, was awarded to Iraklis and Aris,
docked three points, were duly relegated.