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Player Spotlight: Sotiris Ninis
Andy (Rangers) 7 years ago
Sotiris Ninis

Sotiris Ninis was born in April 1990 in Southern Albania although he has opted to play out both his domestic and international career in neighbouring Greece.

Ninis started his youth career at Apollon Smyrnis at the age of 11. This historic club are famed for their prestigious youth academy, having produced talents such as Demis Nikolaidis and current Greek international Giorgos Karagounis.

He played with the lower-league outfit for 2 years and after displaying an array of talents disproportionate to his age, was picked up by Panathinaikos and subsequently enrolled in their youth academy.

Ninis accelerated through the ranks of the Panathinaikos youth system, amazing the coaching staff at the Apostolos Nikolaidis with his mazy dribbling and intelligence on the field. He was called up into the main squad in 2006 and played his first professional match against Egaleo in January 2007 at the age of 16, in which he was awarded MoM.

The following month, Ninis scored twice and provided assists for two goals in an emphatic 4-1 drubbing of city rivals AEK Athens. The right-winger evidently ran the show and this was the point at which Ninis crossed over from prospect into superstar.

The success at domestic level was to be soundly reflected on the international stage. After refusing the offer to play for the Albanian U-21 squad, Ninis was called up to the Greek U-21 squad, believing a more fulfilling career was to be found.

Ninis played in the 2007 UEFA U-19 Championships, helping the team reach the final. He was featured in the team of the tournament after a string of impressive performances, providing a number of key assists.

The youngster is a creative force in the right of midfield, possessing great vision as well as pin-point passing accuracy. He fulfils a playmaker role, and when he is not dictating play from the midfield, he is marauding down the wing and is often known to whip in deceptive crosses. His characteristics on the field have been met with inevitable yet credible comparisons, notably ‘The Greek Messi,’ and ‘The Greek Kaka.’

After much media speculation, Ninis was called up to the Greek international side in 2008 and scored on his debut against Cyprus, becoming the youngest ever scorer for Greece. Many considered this a way for coach Otto Rehhagel to gauge whether or not Ninis was at a high enough standard to travel to Euro 2008 and to much disappointment, he failed to feature.

The young starlet was played whenever possible for the rest of the season but this was to come at a price.

Ninis was training with the Panathinaikos main squad and often playing full 90 minute fixtures, at such a young age. This proved detrimental to his muscle development and so the season that followed (07/08) was marred with injuries and disappointment. His fabulous ability to change results and provide a real impact on matches was exploited and overused, apparently blunting his chances of stardom.

The 2008-09 season saw Sotiris pick himself up from injury and get back to winning ways, providing 3 assists and scoring once in a 5-1 victory against Belgian outfit Charleroi in a pre-season friendly. He was subsequently awarded vice-captaincy at the record-breaking age of 18 and featured regularly in the right-midfield role for the Greek powerhouse.

Since then, Ninis has featured intermittently for the Greek main squad and picked up more caps for the U-21s, scoring against the England U-21 side in a recent fixture.

He has continued playing for Panathinaikos yet many believe his undeniable talents have been partially spoiled by over-playing. Although his fitness is often brought into question, the creativity and ball skills of the youngster still amaze.

Unsurprisingly, there is intense speculation as to Ninis future with the club. Arsenal, Manchester United and AC Milan are said to be interested and the relatively meagre buy-out clause of 10 million almost brands his departure as inevitable
Incuteration (Everton) 7 years ago
I remember seeing him on FIFA, yeah he is young and a very talented and gifted footballer
Reidscott (Fiorentina) 7 years ago
Excellent skills.... I'll take him
[account-removed] 7 years ago
I really enjoy these "far flung" articles that focus on the fringe players of the game. It's great that you're trying to expose all dimensions of the soccer world to us - it makes this site that much greater and that much more well rounded.
Thanks for the article! Keep up the good work!
Happiness (Toronto) 7 years ago
I second what X3R0 well said.
I am surprised however that a young player's muscle development can be hampered by practicing with a main squad and playing full 90 minute matches
Andy (Rangers) 7 years ago
Thanks for the kind comments guys.

Many in Greek football claim Ninis was overused by Panathinaikos and effectively burnt out. I was sceptical when I first found out myself, thinking he was at a professional club with high quality physiotherapists but the 2007-08 season is testament to this.

He suffered a number of set-backs early in the season and although he regained fitness towards the end, stayed on the bench
Tony (footytube staff) 7 years ago
This lad sounds more abused, than overused.
I think he ended up with the wrong club, think what the likes of ajax, man utd etc;, could do with a player with that much ability, nurchering him, instead of throwing him in at the deep end.
Hopefully he can stay fit, and maybe get away to a club that gives a s**t.
Then we can see the best of him
Zishan07 (AC Milan) 7 years ago
^ What these guys have said. My thoughts exactly
Somere (Portmore Utd) 7 years ago
Awesome player
Shashank294 (Barcelona) 7 years ago
Ninis is a superb player if you have a look at his videos.... I remember him in fifa's manager mode  A indeed very growing player
Haules (Chelsea) 7 years ago
He is the next Greek football magician  

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