Pantazopoulos pinching himself over Chicago Fire contract

Pari Pantazopoulos cannot believe that he is now a part of the Chicago Fire first team.

Pari Pantazopoulos cannot believe that he is now a part of the Chicago Fire first team.

The 22-year old grew up supporting the Fire and often came and watched his heroes battle it out in Major League Soccer.

But now the midfielder has been added to the senior roster after winning an open tryout in January and he can’t yet believe it has happened.

Pantazopoulos was told after the Fire’s final pre-season match ahead of their 2011 opener against FC Dallas this weekend and he admits it was somewhat of a surprise.

"I found out right before the flight to (return to) Chicago," Pantazopoulos told the Chicago Tribune.

"We were at the airport and (player personnel director) Mike Jeffries pulled me aside and said 'We're interested in signing you. You worked hard and you're a good young prospect.' "

His response: “Wow!.

"I went to the bathroom, looked at myself and thought 'I'm going to be part of the Fire,'.

"Since I was a little kid I rooted for this team."

Fire technical director Frank Klopas said the Greek-born Pantazopoulos was a nice surprise for the club.

"He did very well; he was a pleasant surprise," Klopas said. "He has been in different soccer environments, is good with the ball, makes good decisions and works hard.

"He has the ability; now it's up to him."

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