Ninis with Greece in 2013
|Date of birth||3 April 1990|
|Place of birth||Himara, Albania|
|Height||1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)|
|Playing position||Attacking midfielder, Right Winger|
|2000–2001||Giannis Pathiakakis Academies|
|2013||→ PAOK (loan)||12||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 15 September 2013 (UTC).
† Appearances (Goals).
Sotiris Ninis (Greek: Σωτήρης Νίνης) born 3 April 1990 is a Greek footballer currently playing for Parma. Ninis is a member of the Greek national team. His FIFA profile claims he "possesses a dizzying range of skills to go with sublime vision, an electrifying change of pace and fearsome long-range shooting skills". He normally plays centrally as a creative midfielder, but can also play on the right.
Ninis began his career in 2004 as a youngster in Panathinaikos' football academies, joining from the academy of Apollon Smyrnis. During these 2 years, he became an integral part of the Panathinaikos Youth Squad and his coaches believed him to be the next promising talent of Greek football. As a result, on 22 December 2006, the club directors offered him a 5-year contract and just 2 weeks after that day, on 7 January 2007, Panathinaikos coach Víctor Muñoz selected him in the main squad for the match against Egaleo at the Olympic Stadium. His outstanding performance earned him the title of the Superleague Matchday MVP and he immediately became the hottest name in every Greek football quarter. He became the second youngest player ever to wear the club's shirt in a league match, at the age of sixteen (the first was Kostas Antoniou −15 years old- in 1978). In February 2007, he officially rejected a call to play for the Albanian Under-21 national team. On 15 February 2007, Ninis became the youngest player to participate with a Greek football team in a European cup match, against RC Lens in France. On 18 February, Ninis lead Panathinaikos in a 4–1 win over rivals AEK Athens in the Olympic Stadium. Ninis scored one goal and assisted two others. On 6 July, Ninis signed a professional contract with Panathinaikos.
The 2007–08 season was marred by injuries and non-selection. After coming on as a substitute against Olympiacos in the first game of the season, Ninis was hit by several injuries, a hamstring injury followed by stomach muscle injuries ruled him out of action for three months. It is thought that these injuries arose due to burnout from playing too many games at a young age. He eventually returned in December, but was not part of the Panathinaikos first team for the remainder of the 2007–2008 season. This decision by Panathinaikos coach Jose Peseiro was heavily criticised by all Panathinaikos fans. Despite this, in December 2007, Ninis won the HFF Young Player of the Year, as voted by fellow players and managers. Ninis is the youngest player to have won this award.
The 2008–09 season began well for Ninis. New manager Henk ten Cate featured Ninis regularly in Panathinaikos' pre-season training. He repaid this faith through his performances against teams such as R. Charleroi S.C. Having entered the pitch at half-time, Ninis assisted three goals and scored one, aiding Panathiniakos to a 5–1 victory against the Belgian club. On 11 August 2008, it was revealed that ten Cate had selected Ninis to be one of the new captains of Panathinaikos, along with fellow players Dimitris Salpingidis and Gilberto Silva. Ninis is the youngest ever player to be chosen as captain of Panathinaikos, at the age of 18 years and 125 days. On 23 September 2008, Ninis extended his contract with Panathiniakos for an additional four years to 2012, with a €10m buy-out clause into the agreement for any foreign team wanting to buy him, rising to €17m for a Greek side.
In February 2010, Ninis made his best appearances with Panathinaikos and generally in his personal career so far in the knockout stage of the UEFA Europa League against AS Roma. That days, Roma was in great form and was 2nd in Serie A. Having played well in the first match, in OAKA, he helped his team win 3–2. However in Stadio Olimpico in Roma, he did better, than any other time before. He won a penalty, which Djibril Cissé converted to equalizer for Panathinaikos, then the Greek young attacking midfielder scored from 28 meters and in the stoppage time of the first half he made a great pass to Djibril Cissé, who didn't have a problem to score.
In September 2011, Ninis suffered an injury and did not make his return until March.
On 20 May 2012, he played his last match with Panathinaikos in the 2011–12 Superleague Greece playoffs final against AEK and was replaced by substitute Giorgos Karagounis in the 70th minute. In total, Ninis made 137 appearances for Panathinaikos, scoring 15 goals.
Ninis played with Greece national under-19 football team in the UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship in Austria, where he scored the equaliser against Germany, assisted two others and helped his team to progress to the final. Ninis was eventually selected by UEFA in the "U19 names to note", containing the best eleven players of the 2007 UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship. He was selected as the right midfielder in a 4–4–2 formation. Also he was selected by Uefa as the MVP of this tournament.
Ninis returned to duty for the Under-19 Elite qualifying round of the European Championships, after making his senior international debut. He was a key player in games against Moldova and the Netherlands, particularly impressing in the latter game. He assisted one goal, and scored the match winner from 12 yards as he kept Greece's hopes of qualification alive.
Ninis was officially called up by Greece coach Otto Rehhagel on 16 May 2008 for the game against Cyprus on 19 May. This was Ninis' first ever senior call-up and offers him a chance to stake a claim for the Euro 2008 squad. Ninis, who impressed as Greece reached the final of last year's UEFA European Under-19 Championship, expressed his delight at the news, saying: "It's a dream come true and an extra motivation to work even harder and improve myself. I'm very happy."
On his debut Ninis scored the opening goal of the games versus Cyprus in the fifth minute, after a solid pass by Dimitris Salpingidis, Ninis slotted the ball underneath Antonis Georgallides and into the back of the net making the perfect debut and start for his country and becoming the youngest ever scorer for Greece with 18 years and 46 days, breaking Kostas Eleftherakis' old record by 244 days. Ninis also won the Man of the Match award for his performance. He was, however, omitted from Greece's provisional Euro 2008 squad by coach Otto Rehhagel on 20 May.
On 1 June 2010, Otto Rehhagel named his official 23-man squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Ninis made the cut despite limited appearances for Greece. He was used twice, as a substitution in the matches against Nigeria and Argentina. He is also the youngest player to have been selected by Rehhagel, at just 20 years of age.
On 2 September 2011, Ninis scored the winning goal in a qualifying match for the UEFA Euro 2012 against Israel, in Tel Aviv.
|1.||19 May 2008||Patras, Greece||Cyprus||2–0||Win||Friendly match|
|2.||2 September 2011||Tel Aviv, Israel||Israel||0–1||Win||UEFA Euro 2012 Qualifier|
|3.||11 September 2012||Pireaus, Greece||Lithuania||2–0||Win||2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifier|
- Greek Young Footballer of the year: 2007, 2010
- Named in UEFA U-19 European Championships 2007 "Names to Note"; the best 11 players of the tournament.
- UEFA U-19 European Championships Silver medal (Greece).
- UEFA U-19 European Championships MVP
- Youngest scorer in history of Greek national team
- Youngest scorer of Panathinaikos
- "Sotiris Ninis". FIFA.com. FIFA.
- "Parma confirm Ninis deal". Football-Italia.net (Football Italia). 27 March 2012.
- McCoy, Tom. "Euro 2012: Greece team profile". BBC Sport.
- "Top 10 things you need to know about Sotiris Ninis plus video of his goals". Daily Mirror (London). 4 September 2010.
- "Final the reward for determined Greece". UEFA.com. UEFA. 24 July 2007.[dead link]
- "Greece U21 1–1 England U21". BBC Sport. 8 September 2009.
- Papantonopoulou, Vassiliki (16 May 2008). "Dream comes true as Greece select Ninis". UEFA.com (UEFA).
- "Record-breaker Ninis stars for Greece". UEFA.com (UEFA). 19 May 2008.
- "Greece's Rehhagel sticks with favourites in final 23 for World Cup". Canadian Press. 1 June 2010.[dead link]