Nikopolidis playing in a legends match in 2018
|Full name||Antonios Nikopolidis|
|Date of birth||14 January 1971|
|Place of birth||Arta, Greece|
|Height||1.87 m (6 ft 1 1⁄2 in)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Antonios Nikopolidis (Greek: Αντώνιος Νικοπολίδης; born 14 January 1971) is a former Greek footballer who played as goalkeeper and the current football manager of the Greece national under-21 football team.
He is regarded among the best Greek goalkeepers of all time having been awarded the most caps in the national team and playing an integral part in the UEFA Euro 2004 triumph.
He made his debut during the 1990–91 season in a match against his future club, Olympiacos. In his first years as a Panathinaikos player he was a back-up for Józef Wandzik. In 1995, he played five games as Panathinaikos won the championship and three as they retained it the following year. However, it wasn't until the 1997–98 season that he established himself as a regular goalkeeper at the age of 26. In the 2002 Champions league, he helped the club reach the quarter-finals but, in the 2003–04 season, he lost his place to Konstantinos Chalkias when his contract negotiations broke down.
Panathinaikos offered him €400K per year which, although a pay-rise, he thought was not in line with his contributions to the team over the past 15 years nor with his current market value. As he did not immediately accept the offer the management became suspicious and decided to relegate him to the bench for the rest of the 2003–04 season. The Greek sports media and Panathinaikos fans at first took his side in the conflict and criticised president Vardinogiannis.
Just before UEFA Euro 2004, rumours were circulating that Nikopolidis had been approached by arch-rivals Olympiacos. It was discovered later that he had signed an agreement just before the tournament begun earning him €600K per year for three years. After that, the fans' disappointment in him was displayed during the celebrations following the team's 2003–04 season double when Nikopolidis, while raising the trophy, was booed by the majority of the crowd.
Soon after being instrumental in UEFA Euro 2004 helping Greece to lift the trophy, Nikopolidis joined Olympiacos, making an immediate impact for his once rival team. Keeping a clean sheet in the first derby against his former club in the process, he went on to win two Doubles in a row, making him the only Greek player to win three consecutive doubles with two different clubs.
At his new team, Nikopolidis also earned a reputation for making game-winning saves in the most important games. Displaying his penalty-saving abilities, Nikopolidis saved three penalty kicks against Roma, Real Madrid, and Rosenborg BK, making him undefeated from the penalty spot in UEFA Champions League football in the Olympiacos shirt. In the 2007–08 season, he also equaled the Greek league record for the most penalty kicks saved in one season, which included saves against PAOK and former club Panathinaikos. Nikopolidis announced his plans to retire at the end of the 2009–10 season.
However, he took back his decision to stop his career after Sokratis Kokkalis's insistence. The veteran goalkeeper stated that he would delay his retirement for one more year, to retire as champion. He signed an extension on 16 June that would keep him at Olympiacos for the 2010–11 season.
He also took part in the international match "8th Match Against Poverty", on 14 December 2010, in Karaiskakis Stadium in Greece, as the UNDP team's goalkeeper.
On 20 March 2011, Olympiacos won the championship in a 6–0 win against rivals AEK Athens F.C., in Karaiskakis Stadium.
He made his final appearance on 17 April 2011 in a home 6–0 victory against Larissa F.C. in Karaiskakis Stadium. As a final curtain call, he was replaced by Balázs Megyeri in the last minutes, so he could wave goodbye to the Olympiacos fans.
As the Olympiacos captain, he was the player to accept the championship trophy, after the match.
He played in the qualifying rounds of the 2002 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2004 where he excelled as Greece qualified for the finals. Nikopolidis was one of the cornerstones of the Greek win in Portugal, where he kept three clean sheets in the knockout stages. He was also voted goalkeeper of the Euro 2004 All Star team.
On 15 June 2008, Nikopolidis announced his retirement from international football after Euro 2008, claiming that he had made this decision before the tournament started, and also stating that it is about time for a major change in the Greek national squad.
After retirement, Nikopolidis became the assistant manager of Olympiacos in 2012.
On 1 October 2015, he was named as manager of the Greece national under-21 football team.
Style of play
Nikopolidis was known for the composure, cleverness and simplicity of his game. Despite not being very big or athletic, his excellent positional sense made him an effective shot-stopper and his ability to understand the game helped him rush quickly off his line in order to face one on one situations or act as a sweeper-keeper. Furthermore, he was reliable with the ball at his feet and could control and kick it easily and safely. Despite these skills, though, he was quite ineffective while collecting crosses, a disadvantage that led him to some mistakes during his career.
|1987–88||Anagennisi Arta||Football League 2||16||0|
- As of match played 6 June 2019.
|Greece U21||1 October 2015||Present||31||14||5||12||45.16|||
- Greek Championship: 1990, 1991, 1995, 1996, 2004
- Greek Cup: 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2004; runner-up (Silver Medal): 1997, 1998, 1999
- Greek Super Cup: 1993, 1994; runner-up (Silver Medal): 1996
- Greek Championship: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011
- Greek Cup: 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009
- Greek Super Cup: 2007
- Greek Best Goalkeeper (8): 1999–00, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2005–06, 2007–08, 2008–09 (Record)
- UEFA European Football Championship Team of the Tournament Member: 2004
As assistant coach
- Ôï ÂÇÌÁ onLine – ÁÈËÇÔÉÓÌÏÓ[permanent dead link]
- kathimerini.gr | Archived 28 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- IFFHS. Iffhs.de. Retrieved on 19 December 2011.
- IFFHS. Iffhs.de. Retrieved on 19 December 2011.
- Greece stalwarts hand in their notice Archived 17 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- Olympiacos F.C. Statement
- Announcement (Greek)
- Antonis NIKOPOLIDIS(ƒAƒ“ƒgƒjƒX EƒjƒRƒ|ƒŠƒfƒBƒX) @ LEVEL-K
- "Antonis Nikopolidis - International Appearances". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation.
- "GREECE UNDER 21". Retrieved 21 May 2017.