Liberopoulos in 2012
|Full name||Nikolaos Liberopoulos|
|Date of birth||4 August 1975|
|Place of birth||Filiatra, Greece|
|Height||1.87 m (6 ft 2 in)|
|Playing position||Striker / Attacking midfielder|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 20 May 2012.
Nikolaos "Nikos" Liberopoulos (Greek: Νίκος Λυμπερόπουλος; born on 4 August 1975) is a retired Greek international footballer who played as a striker. He is famous for his aim-to-goal shot, his innate in-play instincts, and his technical attacking skills. Liberopoulos is a unique player in Greek domestic football, as he is equally adored by fans of both AEK Athens and Panathinaikos. Due to the tense rivalry between the Greek clubs, this happens very rarely. He is the only player to be recorded in the top ten scorers of all time for both these teams. Indeed, after seven seasons at Panathinaikos Liberopoulos scored 103 goals. On 10 May 2012, he reached a milestone 100 goals for AEK Athens after a brace against Atromitos, making him the only player in history to score a century of goals for both Athens clubs.
He is one of the most popular footballers to come out of Peloponnesus. Liberopoulos started off his career with Erani Filiatron, he then moved to Kalamata F.C. in 1994. After an impressive debut season in Greece's top division, AEK Athens and Olympiakos F.C. tried to sign him during the summer of 1996 yet Panathinaikos managed to snap him up.
In summer 1996, he signed for Panathinaikos. With them he reached the semi-final stage of the UEFA Champions League. Italian clubs, mainly Juventus and Hellas Verona showed interest in hiring him, but his loyalty to Panathinaikos kept him in Athens. In 2003, Liberopoulos clashed with Panathinaikos' board which eventually led to him leaving the club.
Following his departure from Panathinaikos he was ready to join Sochaux but he finally chose his childhood club AEK Athens where he became a formidable offensive player and inspirational leader. He went to score several times against his former team but never celebrated earning the fans' applause and a standing ovation for his action. He helped AEK Athens scoring 79 times in his 195 appearances and earning a top scorer award during the 2006–07 season. His most important goals originated from two long range shots, the one against Lille OSC (AEK Athens won 1–0) and the other against Olympiakos F.C. (AEK Athens won 4–0). During June 2007, Liberopoulos was offered a lucrative contract with 1. FC Nuremberg worth 4 million euros, which he declined to remain with AEK Athens. Club president Demis Nikolaidis had publicly announced his intent to retain Lymperopoulos at all costs in an effort to bolster AEK Athens' chances at achieving dominance in the Greek Super League. On 7 July 2008, Liberopoulos was released by AEK. German team Eintracht Frankfurt announced his signing on 13 July 2008.
Liberopoulos signed a two-year deal and received the number 10 shirt. He made his German Bundesliga debut for Eintracht Frankfurt, playing the full 90 minutes against Hertha BSC on 17 August 2008 at the Commerzbank-Arena in Frankfurt. Liberopoulos scored his first goal against Mainz 05. He won 55 caps scoring 13 goals in all competitions.
Liberopoulos again signed for AEK Athens in the summer of 2010 and put in an impressive display in AEK's 5–3 win against Australian A-League club Sydney FC on 25 July 2010, scoring one goal and setting up two others. Liberopoulos also scored against Blackburn three days later. He made his Superleague Greece debut against Kerkyra and scored his first official goal in a UEFA Europa League match against Hajduk Split. On 19 January 2010, in a Greek Cup match against Panathinaikos he scored two goals leading his team to victory. Liberopoulos was applauded during his substitution later in that game by some of Panathinaikos' fans despite their team's defeat. After the match Liberopoulos said "I have spent seven nice years in Panathinaikos in which I matured as a player. I keep only the positive things, but now for me AEK is my family and I will do everything for the team." and about the Panathinaikos' fans ovation "It means a lot to me. It's a great feeling to be applauded during your substitution. There were some hoots also but even if the whole stadium was hooting at me that would not have changed what I have said earlier about my feelings for Panathinaikos". On 30 May 11, Liberopulos won his first trophy in his career with AEK winning the Greek Cup 2010–11 against Atromitos 0–3 while also scoring the first goal and was awarded MVP of the match.
On 16 June 2011, Liberopoulos signed a new one-year deal keeping him at the club until 2012. Also, his teammate Traianos Dellas decided to stay for one year in AEK in order to stop his professional career with his best friend, Nikos Liberopoulos.
On 20 May 2012, he had his last match with AEK against Panathinaikos. A lot of Panathinaikos fans and AEK fans respected him by pay him a visit when he was exiting the stadium.
Liberopoulos appeared 76 times in total for Greece scoring 13 goals in the process. His most notable performance in the Euro 2008 qualifiers to date was a last-second goal five minutes into stoppage time to grant Greece a 2–1 victory over Moldova on 6 June 2007, which placed Greece at the top of their qualifying division. Liberopoulos has been known on the international scene as a "super sub", coming off the bench many times in the final quarter of games and scoring the decisive goal.
On 11 September 2009, Liberopoulos announced his retirement from international football, But he returned to the national squad about a year later when he was recalled by the new coach Fernando Santos.
He was also called for UEFA Euro 2012 by the coach Fernando Santos. Liberopoulos announced his retirement from international football after Greece lost to German 4–2 in the Euro 2012 quarter finals on 22 June 2012.
- He had a total 88 appearances in European competitions which was a record for a Greek striker, till the end of his career.
Last updated: May 2012
|1991–94||Erani Filiatron||Delta Ethniki||53||33||-||-||-||-||53||33|
|2010–11||AEK Athens||Super League||23||7||6||3||5||2||34||12|
|Greece national team|
Last updated: 22 June 2012
Source: Nikos Liberopoulos at National-Football-Teams.com
|1||14 October 1998||Athens Olympic Sports Complex, Athens, Greece||Georgia||2–0||3–0||2000 UEQ|
|2||18 August 1999||Kavala Stadium, Kavala, Greece||El Salvador||1–0||3–1||Friendly|
|3||18 August 1999||Kavala Stadium, Kavala, Greece||El Salvador||2–1||3–1||Friendly|
|4||20 August 1999||Kavala Stadium, Kavala, Greece||El Salvador||2–0||3–0||Friendly|
|5||18 December 1999||Trikala Stadium, Trikala, Greece||Estonia||2–2||2–2||Friendly|
|6||3 June 2000||Stadionul Steaua, Bucharest, Romania||Romania||2–1||2–1||Friendly|
|7||7 October 2000||Athens Olympic Sports Complex, Athens, Greece||Finland||1–0||1–0||2002 WCQ|
|8||14 November 2001||Athens, Greece||Cyprus||1–1||1–2||Friendly|
|9||7 September 2005||Almaty Central Stadium, Almaty, Kazakhstan||Kazakhstan||1–2||1–2||2006 WCQ|
|10||2 September 2006||Zimbru Stadium, Chişinău, Moldova||Moldova||0–1||0–1||2008 UEQ|
|11||6 June 2007||Pankritio Stadium, Heraklion, Greece||Moldova||2–1||2–1||2008 UEQ|
|12||13 October 2007||Athens Olympic Sports Complex, Athens, Greece||Bosnia and Herzegovina||3–1||3–2||2008 UEQ|
|13||24 May 2008||Stadium Puskás Ferenc, Budapest, Hungary||Hungary||3–2||3–2||Friendly|
- Greek Cup: 1
- "AEK FC release Liberopoulos". aekfc.gr.[dead link]
- Athanasiou, Nikos (19 January 2010). "Λύμπε": "Πιο συγκεντρωμένοι στη ρεβάνς" (in Greek). gazzetta.gr. Retrieved 20 January 2011.[dead link]
- Ανακοίνωση [Liberopoulos renews contract] (in Greek). aekfc.gr. 16 June 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
- "Λυμπερόπουλος: "Αποχωρώ από την Εθνική ομάδα"" [Liberopoulos retires from Greek national team] (in German). sport-fm.gr. 11 September 2009. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
- "Greece Duo Announce Retirements". Fox Soccer. Retrieved 23 June 2012.