MOSFILOTI, Cyprus (AP) — It would be an understatement to call Philippos Stavrou a fan of former France great and UEFA President Michel Platini.
The 52-year-old Cypriot has legally changed his name to Philippos Stavrou Platini and runs The Temple of Michel Platini in Mosfiloti, a small village about 10 kilometers south of the capital Nicosia.
The museum dedicated to the Frenchman holds 21,137 pieces of memorabilia, including the two-piece suit that Platini wore for years as UEFA chief, frayed and faded soccer jerseys, shorts, balls, caps, watches and even a Platini candle.
A cup that Philippos says his idol once sipped tea from rests in a glass encasement. That’s next to a soccer ball used in the 1984 European Championship that France won with captain Platini scoring nine goals, including two hat tricks. Some 90 items, from books to pennants, bear Platini’s signature.
And now Philippos is hoping the museum, which doubles as a taverna in the evenings, is named among Guinness World Records as the “largest sporting memorabilia collection.”
Dozens of well-wishers joined local government officials and five Cypriot Members of Parliament on Nov. 24, 2013 to witness and certify a video of the museum that will be shipped to Guinness headquarters for verification and hopefully a world record nod.
What used to be The House of Michel Platini, the museum has been renamed The Temple with photos everywhere of the Frenchman, from his playing days in the 1980s to his years as UEFA chief.
Philippos says he’s spent close to 200,000 euros ($270,000) amassing the memorabilia over more than a quarter century and claims his collection is now worth “millions,” but he isn’t selling.
“For me, Platini was the greatest of all time,” says Philippos, himself a former footballer who won the country’s 2nd division with Ermis. He dismisses suggestions his adoration of the Frenchman has crossed the line into obsession. “This gives me life, I’m 52 and I feel 20 years younger,” he said.
Platini himself paid the museum an impromptu visit in October 2009. “He (Platini) told me your father’s crazy,” said Philippos’ son Stavros. “I told him that he’s crazy for you.”
The UEFA suit that’s now the museum’s centerpiece was a gift from Platini following his visit. “This UEFA uniform was worn for all different UEFA events from June 2004 to January 2010,” Platini said in a signed letter that accompanied the suit and is also on display.