More than $32,000 has been raised in less than 2 days, in support of Sydney Olympic legendary fan Andrea Hatzioannou, after an ABC report uncovered that ‘The Legend’ had been living in a Fairfield West caravan park for close to a decade.
The ABC Background Briefing report last Sunday revealed that the 68-year-old Andrea moved into one of metro Sydney’s last remaining caravan parks in 2013, after his wife died of breast cancer.
Working a few days a week hunting scrap metal for extra income has become increasingly difficult, with his advanced years and failing eyesight needing surgery.
The story touched many among the Sydney Olympic faithful, with Club supporter Con Pappas starting a GoFundMe campaign to support Andrea through this difficult period.
“The response has been phenomenal,” said Pappas.
“He is a massive part of the Club, some say they attend games to watch both the match and Andrea. Everyone has an ‘Andrea’ story.”
The former radio host remembers one night when ‘The Legend’ joined him on his program, and sensed that something wasn’t quite right in his personal life.
“I felt helpless back then,” continued Pappas.
“When the [ABC] story was published, it was a sign to make things right for someone in need, who has touched the hearts of many Greek-Australians over the years.”
Since the GoFundMe appeal launched on Monday, more than $32,000 has been raised to help Andrea with his medical bills, and to achieve his dream to live in a granny flat with his youngest son.
“It shows the love and respect the community has for Andrea,” said Pappas.
“The generosity is overwhelming.”
A swathe of Sydney Olympic identities have contributed to the GoFundMe campaign to date, including players Peter Katholos, Jason Madonis, David Barrett, Franco Parisi, Peter Papoythis, Brendan Cholakian and Ante Milicic, former Club President Giannaros and NSL-era Referee Simon Micallef.
Current First Grade co-captain, Hagi Gligor, is among dozens of current and former Blues players that have personally contributed towards the appeal.
“He deserves all the love, care and support we can possibly offer,” said Gligor.
“The boys can’t thank him enough, we’ll win another Championship for him. He’s ‘The Legend’, our legend.”
An emotional Andrea was unavailable for comment on Wednesday night, except for only a few words; “Tell everyone, ‘Thank you’ from me.
“I didn’t ask for any money. I love Sydney Olympic.”
Asked whether the Club should celebrate Andrea’s contributions over many years, Pappas’ thoughts were clear.
“Everyone knows what Sydney Olympic means to Andrea – let’s see what Andrea means to Sydney Olympic,” he said.
“With the support of the Greek community and the football family, I’d love to see Sydney Olympic match all donations raised through the GoFundMe campaign, dollar for dollar.”
A fundraiser event has been pencilled for 12 May, with details currently being finalised among key supporter groups and contributors.
Photo Credit: Mridula Amin, ABC Background Briefing