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Monday, 27 April 2009 12:53

Nuno Morais and Helio Pinto celebrate title success in Cyprus

Duo help APOEL to 20th championship

helio pintonuno moraisAround 5,000 fans descended on the centre of the Cypriot capital Nicosia this weekend to celebrate APOEL’s 20th league championship. In the midst of the festivities were Portuguese duo Nuno Morais and Helio Pinto, both of whom played key roles in the triumph.

Helio Pinto, 25, who has been with the club since 2006, was enjoyed his third Cypriot title, having gained a winner’s medal during his time with Apollon, before taking part in APOEL’s last victory in 2006/07.

Related: Helio Pinto closing on another title in Cyprus

“There are not as many people as there are in Portugal, but the energy here is equal: fireworks, flags and lots of parties,” said the former Benfica man, who has been used as a creative midfielder this season.

“The meaning is the same; it’s always good being champions. This was a very positive season, both in individual and collective terms. Domestically we are champions and in European competition we got to the final qualification stage before the group phase of the Uefa Cup.”

Ex-Chelsea midfielder Nuno Morais is a particular favourite of APOEL manager Ivan Jovanovic, having been an almost ever-present as the team’s anchorman. The 25-year-old has been with the club since the summer of 2007, with his first league title adding to the Cypriot cup won during his debut campaign in Cyprus last year.

“Nobody believed this was a champion team,” he said. “The club changed direction and had financial problems, but the players knew the way to give a fitting response to all these problems. That gives it a particularly sweet taste. It was a very difficult year, but also very positive because we reached all our targets and I played practically every match.”

Related: Helio Pinto admits Portugal frustration

By Sean Gillen

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