Samaras with Celtic in 2009
|Full name||Georgios Samaras|
|Date of birth||21 February 1985|
|Place of birth||Heraklion, Greece|
|Height||1.92 m (6 ft 4 in)|
|Playing position||Winger / Striker|
|2008||→ Celtic (loan)||16||(5)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 26 February 2014.
† Appearances (Goals).
Georgios Samaras (Greek: Γεώργιος Σαμαράς, pronounced [ˈʝorɣos samaˈras]; born 21 February 1985) is a Greek footballer who plays as a winger or striker for Scottish Premiership club Celtic and the Greek national team.
Samaras started his career at Crete, before moving on to Eredivisie side Heerenveen in 2001. He made his first team debut two years later and after a further three seasons with the club he moved to English Premier League side Manchester City for a fee of £6 million in 2006. After Sven-Göran Eriksson took over as Manchester City manager Samaras fell out of favour with the first team. In January 2008 he was loaned out to Scottish Premier League team Celtic. During this time he helped the club win the title for a third season in a row. Celtic signed him at the end of the loan spell and since moving to Glasgow he has won the 2008–09 Scottish League Cup, 2010–11 Scottish Cup and the 2011–12 Scottish Premier League. Samaras also won the SPL Player of the Month award in September 2008.
Although eligible to play for Australia, due to the fact his father Ioannis Samaras was born in Melbourne, Samaras chose to represent his country of birth, Greece, and made his debut in 2006. He has become a regular in the Greek side since then, earning over 60 caps and representing his country at Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.
Samaras was born on 21 February 1985 in Heraklion, the capital city of the Greek island of Crete. His favourite footballer growing up was Marco van Basten. Samaras was also a keen basketball fan and his father, Ioannis Samaras, often let him stay up until the early hours of the morning so he could watch his other hero, Michael Jordan.
The correct spelling of his first name is Yorgos, pronounced in the first syllable. In 1994, when he was 10 years old, Samaras joined his boyhood heroes, OFI Crete. His father was playing for them at the time and then retired in 1996. Six months later, he became Academy chief manager, a position he retained up, until 2000, when he became manager. Samaras credits his father highly with helping start his football career. His influence meant that Samaras trained every day of his childhood and he also got to spend a lot of time behind the scenes at OFI. Samaras left for Dutch club Heerenveen in 2001.
Samaras broke into the Heerenveen team during the 2002–03 season, still aged only 18. He scored three goals in his first four appearances, all of which were from the bench. This form prompted Heerenveen activate a three-year extension clause in his contract.
Samaras' first goal of the 2003–04 season came, on 25 October, in a shock 2–1 loss for Heerenveen against NEC Nijmegen. On 3 December, Samaras scored as Heerenveen beat ADO Den Haag 2–0. His next goal came 10 days later as he scored an equaliser to secure a draw 1–1 for Heerenveen against RBC Roosendaal. He then scored on 20 December, as Heerenveen beat Roda JC 2–1.
Samaras' first goal of the 2004–05 season came on 11 September, in a 2–0 win over De Graafschap. He then scored a last-minute winner on 3 October, as Heerenveen secure all three points against ADO Den Haag. On 28 November, Samaras scored one of Heerenveen's goals as they staged a late comeback against title-chasing Feyenoord, and secured a 2–2 draw. He then scored on 22 January, as Heerenveen, who were performing very well in the Eredivisie, beat Den Bosch 2–1. On 12 March, Samaras scored an equaliser against RKC Waalwijk, but Heerenveen then conceded a late goal and fell to a 2–1 defeat. On 2 April, Samaras scored to help Heerenveen secure a shock 2–1 victory over Ajax. A fortnight later, Samaras scored the equaliser as Heerenveen came from behind to beat Vitesse 3–1. This win moved Heerenveen up to fifth in the table. In the next match Samaras, along with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, scored a hat-trick as relegation candidates RBC Roosendaal were defeated 7–1 and Heerenveen pushed to finish the league in a European spot.
At the start of the 2005–06 season, Sevilla were reported to be interested in Samaras as a replacement for Júlio Baptista. While Arsenal were also looking at him after they had missed out on signing Baptista, some news organisations had reported that Arsenal had already signed Samaras and that he would join at the end of the season. However, the player's father, Ioannis Samaras said that this was untrue and that his son wanted to stay at the club for another year. Samaras scored on the opening day of the season, on 20 August, when he helped Heerenveen to a 5–4 victory over Roda JC. He picked up a minor leg injury in September, which ruled him out of Heerenveen's UEFA Cup tie against Baník Ostrava. But he returned to action on 23 September, and scored as Heerenveen beat NEC Nijmegen 2–1. On 14 December, Samaras scored as Heerenveen came back from behind to beat Levski Sofia 2–1 in the UEFA Cup. On 30 December, Samaras scored twice as Heerenveen beat Ajax 4–2. In January 2006, Arsenal and Manchester City showed interest in signing the striker. Samaras tried to get released from his contract after Heerenveen had rejected a bid from Manchester City. However, the Dutch arbitration commission ruled that he had no grounds to end his contract. Samaras scored 25 goals in 88 appearances for Heerenveen.
Samaras moved to Manchester City on 30 January 2006 for a fee of £6 million, a record for a Greek player & was given the number 20 shirt. Samaras stated that he was excited about moving to Manchester City, because he saw them as being the next stage in his development. He also said that he would relish being in a team with the likes of David James, Andrew Cole, and Trevor Sinclair. He made his debut for City on 1 February, as a 65th minute replacement for Andrew Cole in a 3–0 home win against Newcastle United. His first goal for the club came in the following home match, against Charlton Athletic. The following month Samaras scored in a 2–1 home win against Aston Villa, to put City through to the quarter-finals of the League Cup. This was his fourth goal in six appearances. Samaras scored one further goal that season, in a 2–1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.
Samaras' first goal of the 2006–07 season came on 20 September, despite this, City lost 2–1 in the League Cup to League One side Chesterfield. Four days later, Samaras scored twice, as Manchester City beat West Ham United 2–0. City had won just three of their previous 16 games, and the club, as well as Samaras, had been receiving a lot of criticism from fans. In December, Pearce publicly stated that Samaras would have to 'toughen up', if he wanted to be a success in the Premier League. He said that Samaras' all round game wasn't good enough, and that he would need to learn to pass the ball better and compete more effectively. Some fans had criticised Pearce for signing Samaras, along with other foreign players, who had not settled in well enough to the English game. On 2 January, Samaras came on as a half-time substitute, and scored twice, as they beat Everton 2–1. In March, Daily Mirror reported that the reason Manchester City were struggling so badly was that they didn't have any quality strikers. They went on say that the £6million spent on Samaras looked like "very bad business" especially compared to the £2.5 million Blackburn Rovers had spent on Benni McCarthy. They also described Samaras as looking like a "fish out of water" as he struggled to adapt to the different style of play in England. On 10 March, defender Richard Dunne said that he felt the reason that City were performing so badly was that their foreign players, including Samaras, were letting the side down by not working hard enough. Samaras responded to his criticisms, by saying that he felt it was Pearce's fault that he wasn't playing well because the manager wasn't giving him a regular run of games. He also said that he felt a lot of criticism stemmed from his high transfer fee, saying that it is normal for expensive players to be criticised more than most when they don't play well. Samaras also said that he had come through tougher periods than this and his self-belief would not be shaken, he said that his desire was to become a Champions League player. Daily Mail pointed out that, despite the criticism, Samaras had scored more goals than any other City player and that he was also responsible for the few highlights of their season.
Sven-Göran Eriksson took over from Pearce for the 2007–08 season and, following a spending spree, Samaras was reportedly deemed surplus to requirements by the new manager. Samaras' agent Paul Koutsoliakos said that, despite interest from across Europe, his client wanted to stay in the Premier League and prove his ability. Samaras was linked with a £2.5million move to Middlesbrough towards the end of the transfer window but ended up staying at City. Eriksson stated that although he was unimpressed with Samaras when he first joined, he felt the player had improved and adapted his style of play a lot during pre-season and that he now felt comfortable keeping him at the club. Samaras had been widely criticised, and even booed, by City fans at times during the previous season and Eriksson said that he hoped it would not happen again and that he appreciated why Samaras could have found it hard to play under those circumstances. Samaras was behind the likes of Valeri Bojinov and Rolando Bianchi in the pecking order and wasn't included in the squad for the first time until 25 September, when he was selected for a League Cup match against Norwich City. He started the match and scored a last-minute winner to put Manchester City into the quarter-final. By the time the January transfer window came, Eriksson had decided to sell Samaras, amongst others, to try and raise funds for the club. Birmingham City had chased him for several weeks and had a £2.5 million offer accepted for Samaras, meeting Manchester City's valuation of the player. But they pulled out on the deal with a week of the transfer window remaining. Several teams including Rangers, Middlesbrough, Espanyol, Bolton Wanderers, and Charlton Athletic had expressed an interest in signing him, but it was Celtic to whom he eventually moved.
Samaras failed to get a regular place in the first team over the two years he was at Manchester City. Mainly used as a substitute, Samaras scored 12 goals in 63 appearances for the Eastlands club.
On 29 January 2008, Samaras signed for Scottish Premier League club Celtic on a six-month loan deal, with the club having an option to buy. He said that he wanted the move because he needed to be playing first team football to get into the Greece squad for Euro 2008. He also said that he was attracted to the fact that he would regularly be able to play in European competition with Celtic. Samaras was given the number 9 shirt and made his debut on 4 February, in a 5–1 win in the Scottish Cup over Kilmarnock. He scored the final goal of the game after coming on as a substitute. On 20 February, he came on as a substitute in Celtic's 3–2 defeat to Barcelona, this was his first ever Champions League match. A week later he scored the winner in a 2–1 win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle to help Celtic keep up the pressure on league leaders Rangers. He then scored in Celtic's next match, a 2–0 win over Hibernian, after coming on as a substitute. Samaras' next goal came on 23 March, he again came on as a substitute and rounded off the scoring in a 3–0 win over Gretna. On 19 April, he scored the only goal of the game as Celtic beat Aberdeen 1–0, and moved to the top of the league for the first time in 2008. The next month, on 3 May, Samaras again came on as a substitute and scored the winner. His goal gave Celtic a 2–1 victory over Motherwell and kept up Celtic's late challenge for 2007–08 Scottish Premier League. Celtic won the title on the last day of the season, 22 May, by beating Dundee United 1–0. Samaras came on as a late substitute and collected his first winners medal after the match. Samaras' contribution in the second half of the season proved vital to Celtic winning the title, he scored several important goals which kept alive Celtic's slim title hopes. His signing was also credited with reviving the previously underperforming Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.
After his successful loan spell, Samaras left Manchester City on 15 July 2008 and signed a three-year contract with Celtic. Although the fee was not disclosed, it was reported to be between £1 million and £3 million. Samaras' first goals of the 2008–09 season came on 23 August. He scored twice as Celtic beat Falkirk 3–0. On 13 September, he scored another two goals as Celtic beat Motherwell 4–2. He scored twice again in Celtic's next match as they beat Kilmarnock 3–1. He then scored another two goals as Celtic beat Livingston 4–0 and advanced to the League Cup quarter-final. He then named SPL Player of the Month for September, at this point he was also the top scorer with seven goals. Samaras suffered a knee cartilage injury in mid-October, after a successful operation he was expected to be out for a month. This meant he would be likely to miss crucial Champions League ties against Manchester United and Aalborg. He returned earlier than expected and was back in training on 9 November, having missed seven games. Samaras returned to action on 12 November, coming on as a substitute in a 3–0 win over Kilmarnock. On 25 November he started against Aalborg but did not play well and missed several chances as Celtic lost 2–1. This loss consigned Celtic to a bottom place finish in their group. His first goals of the new year came on, on 4 January, as he scored twice against Dundee United. However, this was not enough for a victory and the match finished 2–2. Although he didn't start in the League Cup Final due to poor form, he did come on as a substitute as Celtic beat Rangers 2–0 and won the trophy. Samaras scored twice on 4 April, as Celtic beat Hamilton Academical 4–0. Celtic lost the title on the last day of the 2008–09 season. Samaras scored 17 goals, with 15 of them coming in the SPL. This made him the third top scorer behind Kris Boyd and team mate Scott McDonald.
Celtic manager Gordon Strachan left at the end of the season and was replaced by Tony Mowbray. On 5 August, Samaras scored in injury time of Celtic's Champions League third qualifying round tie against Dynamo Moscow. This goal won Celtic the tie, 2–1 on aggregate, and helped them to their first European away win in six years. Celtic then drew English Premier League club Arsenal, but lost 5–1 on aggregate and subsequently dropped into the Europa League. On 13 December, Samaras scored in Celtic's 3–2 win over Motherwell, this was his fifth goal in the club's previous four matches. He scored in Celtic's 2–1 defeat against Hearts on 19 December. This left Celtic four points behind rivals Rangers going into Christmas. From February onwards, Samaras was mainly played out of position on the left of midfield. He finished the season with 10 league goals and 12 in all competitions.
Samaras began the 2010–11 season season in good form, scoring his first goal a Europa League tie against FC Utrecht with a chest down and finish to make it 2–0, sending Celtic into the second leg with a lead. On 22 September 2010, he scored a hat-trick in a 6–0 win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the League Cup. He then produced a match-winning performance against Rangers at Ibrox on 2 January 2011. He was selected as a lone striker and scored both Celtic goals in a 2–0 victory. His first goal came from latching onto a Joe Ledley pass before rounding Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor and slotting home from a wide angle. His second came after he won a penalty which he converted to secure the victory. His efforts in this game won him Goal.com's World Player of the Week Award. In the following game, a Scottish Cup tie against Berwick Rangers, Samaras again started but failed to last the 90 minutes after sustaining a hamstring injury. Samaras had an influential performance in a 3–0 home victory against Rangers in the SPL on 20 February, helping to set up the second goal for Gary Hooper and causing problems for the opposition throughout the game. On 16 March, Samaras captained Celtic for the first time in a 2–1 Scottish Cup win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle at the Caledonian Stadium. Two days later, he signed a new deal to keep him at Parkhead until the summer of 2014.
On 3 November 2011, Samaras started against Rennes in a Europa League match at Celtic Park. Celtic won the match 3–1 with Samaras getting two assists. He drew plaudits for his much noticed work-rate and determination during the match. Samaras then started the next match against Motherwell in the SPL and set up another goal for Anthony Stokes, Celtic went on to win the match 2–1 after being 1–0 down. Samaras went on to score his first goal of the 2011–12 season in a 5–0 win over St Mirren. Manager Neil Lennon said that; "He got his goal, which we've been waiting on a long time. His play was fantastic. He is a talent and all we are asking for is consistency. He has shown everyone today what he is capable of when he is in full flow. The rest took a leaf from his book." After an impressive performance in Celtic's 1–1 draw against Italian league leaders Udinese, fellow Serie A side Palermo expressed an interest in Samaras. He had been playing as a left midfielder in the previous few weeks, and the Daily Record said that his good form since returning to the team had helped re-ignite Celtic's season. On 24 December, Samaras started as a striker and scored twice as Celtic beat Kilmarnock 2–1.
On 8 August, Samaras scored his 50th Celtic goal in the 2–0 away victory over HJK Helsinki in the second leg of the Champions League third qualifying round. On 21 August, Samaras assisted Kris Commons' opening goal in the Champions League play-off round first leg away at Helsingborgs and then scored himself later in the match. He scored a dramatic late winner in a 2–3 win against Spartak Moscow in the Champions League group stage. Samaras became the first player in Celtic history to score in 5 consecutive away matches in Europe, with headed goals in 2–1 defeats to Barcelona and Benfica adding to his goals against Spartak Moscow, Helsingborgs and HJK Helsinki. Samaras is also credited for helping Celtic pass group stage when he was fouled in Spartak Moscow penalty area and therefore providing the goal Celtic needed to pass Champions League group stage. Samaras scored an overhead kick in a 2-0 win at Dundee on Boxing Day 2012. In 16 March 2013, Samaras was substituted on as Aberdeen led Celtic 3-1 at Celtic Park, and his overhead kick completed the comeback as he made it 4-3 in the 94th minute of the match.
Samaras started the 2013/14 season with a goal against NIFL Premiership club Cliftonville in the UEFA Champions league second qualifying round. Samaras made it 2 goals in 2 matches as he scored in the return leg of the UEFA Champions league second qualifying round at Celtic Park against NIFL Premiership club Cliftonville with a header in a 2-0 victory. Celtic won the tie 5-0 on aggregate.
Samaras was eligible to play for the Australian national team. His father, Ioannis, was born in Melbourne, but moved to Greece at the age of 13, and had a successful football career, playing for OFI Crete, Panathinaikos, and the Greek national team. Additionally, his grandfather (also Georgios) was one of the founding members of South Melbourne. Although Samaras considered playing for Australia, he was never approached by Football Federation Australia and chose to play for the country of his birth.
He made his debut for Greece just a week after his 21st birthday, on 28 February 2006, in a friendly game against Belarus, in which he scored the only goal of the game. He featured in Greece's Euro 2008 qualifiers and was a member of the unsuccessful Greek squad at the finals. Samaras' fourth international goal was a crucial one, when he scored the winning goal in a 2010 World Cup qualifier against Israel in front of his hometown crowd in Heraklion. He scored his fifth international goal with an overhead kick in a World Cup qualifier on 10 October 2009, against Latvia in a 5–2 victory.
Samaras also played against Ukraine in a World Cup Qualifying play-off, setting up the only goal of the tie, passing to Dimitris Salpingidis who slotted home to give Greece a 1–0 win and a place in the 2010 World Cup Finals.
On 1 June 2010, Georgios Samaras was selected in the 23-man Greece squad for the World Cup. ESPN.com rated him as Greece's second best player, only behind talisman Giorgos Karagounis. He played in all three group matches. Despite Greece's 2–1 win over Nigeria, they failed to proceed to the knockout stage of the World Cup, due to 2–0 losses to both South Korea and Argentina. On 17 November 2010, Samaras scored his sixth international goal in a friendly against Austria in Vienna with Greece winning the match 2–1. Samaras also set up Greece's second goal.
Samaras then went on to score a vital goal for Greece against Croatia on 7 October 2011, a volley from the edge of the box with his left foot. The match finished 2–0 and the result meant that Greece qualified for the Euro 2012.
Style of play
Samaras has been described as all the skills necessary for forward play. His height, 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m), makes him very difficult to handle in the air – and he is also a very good header of the ball. This means he can be used as an effective target man and his team can hit long balls up to him. He can also score from corners and crosses. Samaras is also very strong which further adds to his physical presence and makes him harder for defenders to play against.
Samaras is also a very good dribbler. This is due to his skill, quick feet and agility. He uses this to his advantage as often goes on runs where he beats several opposition players. However, he can sometimes hold onto the ball for too long and get tackled. As well as his dribbling ability, he is very quick which means he can beat players with his pace. He can also use his strength to beat players as well and is also able to use his creativity to set up goals for other players. While he was at Manchester City, Eriksson said that he would only retain him in the side if he stopped dribbling and running out wide. Eriksson said that he believed Samaras to be a very good header of the ball and he had to stop believing he was like Ronaldinho if he was to become a good player.
Although predominantly a striker, Samaras can also play as a left midfielder. During his time at Manchester City, Samaras expressed his disappointment at being used on the left of midfield too often, he publicly said to manager Sven-Göran Eriksson; "I am not a left-midfielder, I am a striker and I like to play there," However, after his move to Celtic, Samaras was more open to playing as a left midfielder. The Daily Mail said that this was because he was happier at Celtic and more willing to be a team player. In addition to being able to play as a target man, Samaras can also be used in several different roles when playing up front. His natural style of play is to drift off the front line and provide a link between the attack and midfield. In doing this he can use his pace and skill to run at the defence, while also creating chances or opening up space for his teammates. He can also run beyond the centre-backs and his pace means he can run on to through balls hit over the defence.
|Club performance||League||Cup||League Cup||Continental||Total|
|England||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|Manchester City||Premier League||2005–06||14||4||2||1||0||0||0||0||16||5|
|Scotland||League||Scottish Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
- 1.^ Includes league play-offs for spots in UEFA competitions and relegation/promotion play-offs
- 2.^ Includes FA Community Shield
- 3.^ There is currently no other competition for Scottish professional football clubs
- As of 5 March 2014
- Scores and results list Greece's goal tally first
|1.||28 February 2006||Tsirion Stadium, Limassol||Belarus||1–0||1–0||Friendly|
|2.||1 March 2006||GSP Stadium, Nicosia||Kazakhstan||2–0||2–0||Friendly|
|3.||11 October 2006||Bilino Polje, Zenica||Bosnia and Herzegovina||2–0||4–0||Euro 2008 qualifier|
|4.||1 April 2009||Pankritio Stadium, Heraklion||Israel||2–1||2–1||2010 World Cup qualifier|
|5.||10 October 2009||Olympic Stadium, Athens||Latvia||4–2||5–2||2010 World Cup qualifier|
|6.||17 November 2010||Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Vienna||Austria||1–0||2–1||Friendly|
|7.||7 October 2011||Karaiskakis Stadium, Piraeus||Croatia||1–0||2–0||Euro 2012 qualifier|
|8.||22 June 2012||PGE Arena‚ Gdańsk||Germany||1–1||2–4||Euro 2012|
- Scottish Premier League (3): 2007–08, 2011–12, 2012–13
- Scottish League Cup (1): 2009
- Scottish Cup (2): 2011, 2013
- SPL Player of the Month
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- Georgios Samaras ESPN Soccernet
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