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Stylianos "Stelios" Giannakopoulos (Greek: Στυλιανός Γιαννακόπουλος; born 12 July 1974 in Athens), popularly known as Stelios, is a retired Greek footballer that is currently president of the Greek Professional Footballers Association. Stelios is one of the best known Greek footballers internationally, due to his successful spells with Olympiacos and Bolton Wanderers as well as his appearances with the 2004 European championship winning Greek national team.

Club career

Early career

Stelios is the second son of Alekos Giannakopoulos, a retired football player who had enjoyed Division A football in the 60's. He joined Ethnikos Asteras (the semi-professional club of his neighbourhood Kaisariani) when he was seven years old, later moved for one year to Doxa Vyronas, and finally made his first-team debut for Ethnikos Asteras in the autumn of 1991,[1] in a season which ended with the club gaining promotion to the professional Third Division. Next year, in his opening season as a professional, the young winger found himself scoring six goals and impressing the scouters of clubs that participated in higher divisions. In the summer of 1993 he moved to Paniliakos; he stayed there for three years, scoring 26 goals in 84 games and establishing himself as a member of the national U21 team.

Olympiacos

Having attracted the attention of the top clubs, in the summer of 1996 Stelios signed for Olympiacos F.C. at the age of 21. One of Stelios' career highlights came in only his second season with the club when he prestigiously scored Olympiacos' first ever Champions League goal against Porto.[2] The stunning 40-meter lob was voted as the goal of the competition by fans[3] and also led to Olympiacos' first ever win in the competition. Olympiacos won the Greek championship in every single season while Stelios was with them and reached the quarter finals of the Champions League during the 1998–99 season. His reputation as a player was cemented in his last and most successful season with the club when he scored 15 goals, including 2 goals in the title deciding 3–0 win over arch rivals Panathinaikos in May 2003. Stelios spent a total of seven successful seasons there as a regular player, making a total of 189 appearances and scoring 63 goals in all competitions. To this day Giannakopoulos regularly attends special events at his former club and is considered a legend by the fans, notably for the determination he put into every match including the derbies against arch-rivals Panathinaikos and AEK Athens where he scored many of his finest goals.

Bolton Wanderers

However on 28 May 2003, after ten years of professional football in Greece he was snapped up by English Premier League side Bolton Wanderers. The manager at the time Sam Allardyce described Stelios as "...an attacking midfielder who knows how to score goals. His main attribute remains his ability to make late runs into the penalty area and his flair to shoot accurately from range."[4] It was at this point that the popular name 'Stelios' came about as the player unconventionally chose for his first name to be printed on his shirt instead of his very long (and difficult for the English journalists) surname. He made his Bolton début against Manchester United and helped Bolton reach the 2004 Carling Cup final and their highest ever Premier League finish in his first season. Stelios' first two seasons with the club were successful, demonstrated by the fact that both Manchester City and Liverpool openly attempted to sign him before he signed a new contract with Bolton in August 2005.[5]

His fine form continued into the 2005–06 season which was Stelios' most successful as he was top scorer for Bolton with 12 goals, an impressive tally for a midfielder. One of the highlights of that season was the winning goal he scored against Arsenal in an FA Cup Fourth round match played at the Reebok Stadium on 28 January 2006. His form dipped slightly in the 2006–07 season where he missed several games through injury and failed to score any goals although he was still a regular player for the club with 28 games.

With Sam Allardyce leaving the club at the start of the 2007–08 season and only a year left on his contract, there were rumours of Stelios moving to another Premier League club or returning to Greece. However Stelios stayed at Bolton and although he was not as regular a player as previous seasons (due to injury and managerial changes) he was able to help Bolton with a string of late goals. The first one during injury time in the Carling Cup 3rd round tie against Fulham FC at Craven Cottage, the second one in the UEFA Cup, when Stelios scored in the 3rd minute of injury time to salvage a 1–1 draw against Aris Salonica and the third one in a Premier League game versus Derby when Stelios again scored in injury time to earn Bolton a much needed 3 points in what was a poor season for the team. His last ever goal for Bolton was a crucial one and came on 26 April 2008 when he scored in the 1–1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur helping Bolton avoid relegation.

At the end of the season Stelios was not offered a new contract and was released by the club[6] fuelling speculation that he would be returning to his native Greece and finishing off his career at Olympiacos. However the player confirmed that he would prefer to stay in the Premier League, and was subsequently linked with a move to newly promoted Premier League club Hull City, after interest from their new manager Phil Brown who worked with Stelios at Bolton.[7]

Hull City

On 22 September 2008 it was confirmed by Hull that they had signed Stelios on a one year deal.[8] He made his debut for Hull against Portsmouth exactly 2 months after joining them on 22 November 2008, coming on as a sub in the 82nd minute. Stelios would make one more substitute appearance in the league as well as a full game in the FA cup before he decided to make a further move having been frustrated by his lack of games at Hull.

Larissa

On 22 January 2009, six years after his first move to the UK, Stelios returned to Greece by signing for Greek side Larissa on a one-and-a-half-year deal.[9] Stelios' impact was instant as the Greek press labeled him the 'most important transfer of the winter period'[10] as he scored 3 crucial goals in his first 4 games to propel Larissa to a top 5 position in the Greek Super League. Larissa were able to maintain this position until the end of the season which qualified them for European competition, something which Stelios admitted was a great achievement and totally unexpected for a smaller team like Larissa and compared it to his time with Bolton.[11] The following season however was not as successful as Stelios struggled with injuries and even courted controversy with some comments he made to the Greek press that were seen as being disloyal his team.[12] He parted company amicably with Larissa on 12 December 2009, six months before his contract would have officially ended.

Greek Professional Footballers Association

On 25 May 2010 Stelios was voted as president of the Greek Professional Footballers Association, taking over from his former team mate Antonios Nikopolidis.[13]

International career

Stelios made his international debut on 12 March 1997 in a friendly game against Cyprus. His first international goal came almost two years later on 5 February 1999 in a friendly game against Belgium. He fell out of favour slightly in 2000 and 2001 featuring in only 3 games in 2 years however cemented his place in the team from 2002 onwards, featuring in every single game of the EURO 2004 qualifiers. One of his most important and memorable goals with the Greek national team was during those qualifiers; Stelios scoring the only goal in a 1–0 away victory against Spain in Zaragoza, in a game which ensured automatic qualification for Greece. He was also one of the key players in the victorious team at the 2004 European Football Championship playing in 4 out of 6 games including the final. Following this success, Giannakopoulos would remain a key part of the national team, becoming Greece's top scorer in their failed 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign. He was also amongst the squad that unsuccessfully defended their title at the Euro 2008 competition. His last game for the national team came during that competition, in the 2–1 defeat against Spain on 18 June 2008. Stelios had scored a total of 12 goals for the national team; an interesting statistic being that Greece had won all but one of the games in which Stelios had scored in.

Statistics

International goals
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 5 February 1999 GSZ Stadium, Larnaca, Cyprus Belgium 1–0 Win Friendly
2 10 March 1999 Olympic Stadium, Athens, Greece Croatia 3–2 Win Friendly
3 10 March 1999 Olympic Stadium, Athens, Greece Croatia 3–2 Win Friendly
4 12 May 2002 Fotis Kosmas Stadium, Alexandroupolis, Greece Romania 3–2 Win Unofficial Friendly[14]
5 21 August 2002 Farul Stadium, Constanța, Romania Romania 0–1 Win Friendly
6 7 June 2003 La Romareda, Zaragoza, Spain Spain 0–1 Win UEFA Euro 2004 qualifying
7 20 August 2003 Idrottsparken, Norrköping, Sweden Sweden 1–2 Win Friendly
8 4 September 2004 Qemal Stafa Stadium, Tirana, Albania Albania 2–1 Loss World Cup 2006 qualifying
9 26 March 2005 Lokomotivi Stadium, Tbilisi, Georgia Georgia 1–3 Win World Cup 2006 qualifying
10 7 September 2005 Tsentralny Stadium, Almaty, Kazakhstan Kazakhstan 1–2 Win World Cup 2006 qualifying
11 16 November 2005 Karaiskaki Stadium, Athens, Greece Hungary 2–1 Win Friendly
12 1 March 2006 GSP Stadium, Lefkosia, Cyprus Kazakhstan 2–0 Win Friendly
[edit] Career statistics
Club League Season League Cup League Cup Europe Other* Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Ethnikos Asteras Football League 2 Greece 1992–93 32 6 32 6
Paniliakos F.C. Football League Greece 1993–94 26 9 26 9
1994–95 31 10 31 10
Super League Greece 1995–96 27 7 27 7
Total 84 26 84 26
Olympiacos F.C. 1996–97 31 7
1997–98 7 1 31 3
1998–99 10 3 23 7
1999-00 6 2 29 10
2000–01 6 0 26 11
2001–02 5 2 21 11
2002–03 6 1 29 15
Total 161 49 40 9 190 64
Bolton Wanderers Premier League 2003–04 31 2 2 0 6 2 39 4
2004–05 34 7 2 1 2 0 38 8
2005–06 34 9 4 2 2 0 6 1 46 12
2006–07 23 0 3 0 2 0 28 0
2007–08 15 2 1 0 2 1 8 1 26 4
Total 137 20 12 3 14 3 14 2 177 28
Hull City 2008–09 2 0 1 0 3 0
Larisa F.C. Super League Greece 2008–09 9 3 6 0 15 3
2009–10 9 0 9 0
Total 18 3 6 0 24 3
Career total 400 98 13 3 14 3 54 11 6 0 475 121

*Other includes European qualifying rounds and league play-offs

Statistics accurate as of 12 December 2009

Honours

Paniliakos

Greek Second Division: 1995

Olympiacos F.C.

Greek Championship: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003
Greek Cup: 1999

Bolton

Premier League Asia Trophy: 2005

Greece

Euro 2004: Champions

Individual

Greek Footballer of the Year: 2003
Greek Second Division best player: 1995

Awards
Preceded by
Demis Nikolaidis Best Greek player
2003 Succeeded by
Dimitris Papadopoulos
Preceded by
– Greek Second Division best player
1995 Succeeded by
Mohammad Afash

References

^ [1] Official site of Doxa Vyrona
^ Olympiacos beat Porto Athens News Agency
^ Giannakopoulos profile redplanet.gr
^ Stelios Giannakopoulos profile 4THEGAME.com
^ Stelios commits future to Bolton BBC article, August 2005
^ Bolton to release trio
^ Hull keen on Greek international BBC article, June 2008
^ Hull agree to sign Giannakopoulos BBC article, September 2008
^ "Stelios joins Larissa". Sky Sports. 2009-01-22. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
^ Stelios Giannakopoulos MVP on match day 22 in.gr article, February 2009
^ Stelios end of season interview sportgate.gr, May 2009
^ Larissa – End for Stelios sportnet.gr, December 2009
^ Stelios appointed as president contra.gr, May 2010
^ Alexander Mastrogiannopoulos (July 4, 2006). "Greece - International Matches 2001-2006 (Note: Romania used the "B" Team)". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation (RSSSF). Retrieved March 2008.

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