Just three days out from a potential first Caltex Socceroos cap, new striker Apostolos Giannou says “politics” of Greek football and a youthful desire to wear the Green and Gold is why he chose to pledge his allegiance to Australia.
Greek-born Giannou was capped by Greece in a friendly against Turkey last November but a phone call from Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou now has him on the verge of a debut for the Socceroos.
The 26-year-old completed his first training session with the squad at the Adelaide Oval on Monday and is in line to see some action in Thursday night’s FIFA World Cup qualifier against Tajikistan.
Giannou, who played for the Joeys as a teenager, spent close to a decade in Australia as a youngster before moving back to Greece to pursue a professional career.
While there were times he thought his chances of playing for Australia were gone, the exciting striker is here now and couldn’t be happier.
“Pretty much as soon as I got contacted by the Australian team and Ange, I have always wanted to be a part of the team and here I am,” Giannou told Fox Sports.
“It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I feel Greek and Australian. I grew up in Australia for 10 years, that’s in me.
“Whenever people asked me even in Greece I always told them, I was Greek and Australian.
“What helped me [make a decision] was being in Greece the last seven, eight years.
"I’ve seen all the politics and been through a lot of stuff that people shouldn’t have to go through as soccer players.
“That pretty much pushed me away. I wanted to get away from Greece a while ago…it’s happened now and I’m just happy to move forward, have a new start and play for Australia.”
Giannou has been a consistent goal scorer in the Greek League for the last couple of seasons but has now moved to China’s Ghangzhou R&F for a multi-million dollar price tag.
It underlines the talent the former Victorian Institute of Sport graduate has and he believes his versatility as a striker is a huge asset in his game.
“I do like to come off and get the ball to me feet and try and turn...it depends on how the coach likes to play,” Giannou said.
“I’m also the sort of player that likes to move a lot and try and get the ball into space behind the defenders back if possible.
“That’s what I’ve been trying to do the last two years that I’ve been playing as a striker.”