Papadopoulos with Leverkusen in 2014.
|Full name||Kyriakos Papadopoulos|
|Date of birth||23 February 1992|
|Place of birth||Katerini, Greece|
|Height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|Playing position||Centre back / Defensive midfielder|
(on loan from Bayer Leverkusen)
|2014–2015||→ Bayer Leverkusen (loan)||14||(2)|
|2016–||→ RB Leipzig (loan)||1||(0)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 21 September 2016.
Kyriakos Papadopoulos (Greek: Κυριάκος Παπαδόπουλος; born 23 February 1992) is a Greek footballer who plays as a centre back for RB Leipzig (on loan from Bayer Leverkusen) and the Greek national team.
Born in Katerini, Papadopoulos was signed from hometown club Svoronos Katerinis by Olympiacos in July 2007. He immediately featured in several of Olympiacos' pre-season friendlies, three league games and three Greek Cup games.
In the summer of 2007, Papadopoulos was invited on trial to train with the RCD Espanyol youth team during the pre-season, with a view to giving the player a role in the team. Papadopoulos, however, performed well enough for the club's management staff to fast-track him, promoting him to the reserve team, and then once more to the first team, offering him a contract immediately.
Olympiacos scouts were also aware of the prodigy's talents, however, and the former manager of Olympiacos, George Louvaris, was quick to secure a deal with Papadopoulos' father Nikos, thus bringing him to Piraeus.
The 2007–08 season was promising for Papadopoulos. He made his competitive debut for Olympiacos in the Greek Superleague as a substitute during a 3–1 win over Atromitos on 2 December 2007, thus becoming the youngest player to ever play in the Greek league at the age of 15 years and 283 days. He also made the substitutes bench in the UEFA Champions League against Real Madrid and Lazio, and featured in several Greek Cup games. If Papadopoulos had featured in any Champions League games, he would have broken the record for the youngest player to ever compete in the competition by nearly two years.
In September 2008, Papadopoulos signed a new contract with Olympiacos, which included a £4.6 million release clause, over three years. On 2 November 2008, Papadopoulos made his first league appearance of the 2008–09 season for Olympiacos at home to Ergotelis in a 2–0 home win.
On 23 June 2010, German club Schalke 04 announced that they had signed Papadopoulos on a four-year deal, keeping him until 2014. On 21 August 2010, Papadopoulos made his Bundesliga debut for the club in a 2–1 loss against Hamburger SV. On 25 August 2011, in the qualification round of the UEFA Europa League, he scored his first goal for Schalke in a 6–1 win over HJK Helsinki. On 1 December, in a group stage game in the Europa League, Papadopoulos scored the opening goal in a 2–1 win over Steaua București. On 17 December, Papadopoulos scored his first goal in the Bundesliga in a 5–0 win over Werder Bremen and scored the next game on 21 January 2012 in a 3–1 win over VfB Stuttgart. Since joining Schalke from Olympiacos, Papadopoulos has played in over 70 matches in all competitions, scoring five goals and has ultimately gathered respect and praise from all over Europe due to his tenacious and skillful defending considering his young age.
Ahead of the 2012–13 season, Italian club Milan were interested in signing Papadopoulos. After showing interest, Schalke accused Milan of making an illegal approach for Papadopoulos without the club knowing. Also interested were Russian giants Zenit Saint Petersburg, but when their £16 million bid for Papadopoulos was accepted by Schalke, Papadopoulos rejected the move, opting to stay in Germany. In September 2012, Papadopoulos signed a new contract with Schalke that will keep him at the club until 2016. On matchday two of the 2012–13 season, Papadopoulos scored his first goal of the season, and third in the Bundesliga, in a 3–1 win over FC Augsburg. A virus, however, would later kept him out of play for a number of games, and he would later undergo surgery in an attempt to correct a knee injury he suffered in a 3–1 loss away at Hamburger SV in November 2012.
After a very difficult year for the defender marred by injury (383 days to be exact), Papadopoulos returned to action in a home game against SC Freiburg in December 2013. Just a few weeks after his return to action, however, Papadopoulos suffered a new shoulder injury and could have been forced to undergo surgery. The news came as another blow, as his recurring knee problems restricted him to just four appearances in the 2013–14 season. The injury also forced him to miss the 2014 World Cup with Greece.
Bayer Leverkusen (loan)
On 3 August 2014, Bayer Leverkusen signed Papadopoulos on a season-long loan deal. He told Leverkusen's official website, "I am very happy that it worked out with the change. Bayer 04 is a club just like Schalke with major international ambitions. Unfortunately I was injured more often in the past season. But now I'm back fit and highly motivated to achieve with Leverkusen both my personal goals as well as the club's."
On 3 November 2014, Leverkusen announced that Papadopoulos had been ruled out for the remainder of 2014 with a shoulder injury. The centre-back suffered the injury in the final training session ahead of his side's UEFA Champions League away match with Zenit Saint Petersburg; he underwent surgery. "That's just bitter for Papa," Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt told reporters ahead of Leverkusen's trip to Russia. Following his injury, the club announced that Papadopoulos underwent successful surgery on the following Monday in Herne.
On 8 March 2015, Papadopoulos scored his first Bundesliga goal for Bayer Leverkusen against SC Paderborn. His injury misery continued after, on 25 April 2015, he dislocated his right shoulder in a league match away against 1. FC Köln. Leverkusen officials reported that Papadopoulos would return to the training after three months.
On 7 June 2015, Bayer Leverkusen opted to make Papadopoulos' loan from Schalke 04 permanent on a €6.5 million transfer fee, with the player signing a five-year contract. On 29 September 2015, Papadopoulos scored his first goal in the 2015–16 season in the first half of a Champions League encounter against Barcelona. Hakan Çalhanoğlu, from a corner, swung in a perfectly-placed corner that hit right underneath Barça goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen's crossbar; Papadopoulos headed-in the rebound from close range. Papadopoulos suffered a lot of injuries during the season facing a tear in a joint capsule that kept him two weeks out of training, as well as a right calf tendon in the 0-0 Europa League draw with Villarreal that kept him out of the club till the end of the season.
RB Leipzig (loan)
On 31 August 2016, Papadopoulos joined RB Leipzig on a €1.5 million season-long loan deal. Papadopoulos, links up once again with Leipzig's director of sport Ralf Rangnick, who was his coach when they won the DFB Pokal together with Schalke in 2011. On 21 September 2016, he made his debut with the club as a substitute in a 1-1 Bundesliga match against Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Papadopoulos was called for the under-19 Greek national team to participate in the Elite round of the 2007 UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship. He participated in all three group games against Moldova, Netherlands and Russia, helping Greece finish top and qualify for the finals. Papadopoulos later featured at the heart of the Greek defence in the finals tournament and was partners with teammate Konstantinos Lambropoulos. He was instrumental in keeping a clean sheet against the Czech Republic, as well as strong performances against England and Italy. His performances attracted attention from scouts of elite teams such as Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea.
The teams were impressed with the defender's maturity in a competition in which he was the youngest player by 13 months. Despite being the youngest player in the tournament, he was also one of the ten most talented players in Europe as considered by UEFA in their UEFA Under-19 Team of the Tournament.
Having finished an excellent year with Schalke, on 4 June 2011, then-Greece head coach Fernando Santos called Papadopoulos up for the first time to the senior squad for a match against Malta. Due to an Avraam Papadopoulos injury and Sokratis Papastathopoulos' inability to play, he took their place in the squad in the centre of defence next to Vangelis Moras. Not only did he have an excellent game, but he also scored the second goal of his team. On 6 September 2011, he scored his second international goal against Latvia in UEFA Euro 2012 qualification.
On 17 April 2015, Papadopoulos was recalled by new Greece manager Sergio Markarian, as part of a selection overhaul, to participate in the nation's European Championship qualifier away at Hungary.
|1.||4 June 2011||Karaiskakis Stadium, Piraeus, Greece||Malta||2–0||3–1||UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying|
|2.||6 September 2011||Skonto Stadium, Riga, Latvia||Latvia||1–1||1–1||UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying|
|3.||31 May 2012||Kufstein Arena, Kufstein, Austria||Armenia||0–1||0–1||Friendly|
|4.||15 August 2012||Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo Norway||Norway||0–2||2–3||Friendly|
|Greece national team|
- Youngest ever player to play in the Greek League at 15 years and 283 days.
- UEFA U19 Team of the Tournament
- Schalke 04
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