Greek football has always been well represented in Europe and that has allowed the country to provide a steady stream of top-level players. Their Euro 2004 victory gave players a new chance to shine at the top level and this saw Greek players get opportunities in many top European leagues including the Premier League. Over the years, 27 Greek players have appeared in the English top flight enjoying varying levels of success and earning cult followings at some clubs. But just who are the best Greek players in Premier League history?
Nikos Dabizas (Newcastle, Leicester)
One of the first Greek players to venture over to England, Nikos Dabizas moved to England with Newcastle in 1998 following a rise to fame with Olympiakos. The centre-back’s fearsome nature and excellent tackling made him a regular in Tyneside appearing in a Newcastle squad that regularly featured at the top of the table. His penchant for nodding in vital goals also made him popular with a fans including a couple of game winning goals against arch-rivals Sunderland. After injuries saw Dabizas lose his first-team status, he left to join Leicester in 2003 although The Foxes would be relegated at the end of the 2003-04 season. It was then that Dabizas left England to move back to Greece with AEL. A quiet end for one of their more colourful characters of the time.
Stelios Giannakopoulos (Bolton, Hull)
Stelios Giannakopoulos was a character who always showed grit and determination when charging forward. Capable of acting as a striker or a winger, he used his strong dribbling skills and eye for goal to make things happen. He showcased this off brilliantly for Bolton most notably scoring 12 goals during the 2005-06 campaign for The Trotters. Having shown his finishing abilities under Sam Allardyce, the Greek striker moved to Hull in 2008 however injuries and a lack of form only saw him make two appearances for The Tigers before they were relegated in 2009. Nearing the end of his career, Giannakopoulos moved back to Greece with AEL in 2009 before retiring just one season later.
Georgios Samaras (Manchester City, West Brom)
Before Manchester City became the mega-rich powerhouse they are today, The Citizens were often relegation favourites in the top-flight. It was the efforts of players like Georgios Samaras that kept them going in those difficult seasons. Sporting his trademark man-bun, Samaras used his powerful frame to hold off defenders and lash the ball home whenever the opportunity arose. He did this for City quite well in the 2005-06 campaign scoring 4 goals in 15 appearances and matched that tally the following season. His time in Manchester ended in 2007 with a move to Celtic becoming a club legend in Scotland. This hot-form earnt him a move back to the Premier League with West Brom in 2014 but a lack of form saw him stay just six months before moving to Saudi Arabia with Al-Hilal.
Jose Holebas (Watford)
Despite being born and raised in Germany, it was his mother’s home nation of Greece that Jose Holebas chose to represent. However, his mixed upbringing saw him develop a style that was as technical as it was physical. This skillset made him the perfect anchor in defence which Watford noticed when they signed him from Roma in 2015. Strong in the air but also excellent at passing, Holebas became the lynchpin of the backline at Vicarage Road. His commanding presence helped keep The Hornets organised as they slowly evolved from relegation candidates to mid-table stalwarts. He spent five seasons with the club before moving to Olympiakos in 2020 before ending his career at the end of the 2020/21 season.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos was a player who provided a throwback to defenders gone by. Despite his name causing both fans and commentators endless headaches, his physical and burly style was reminiscent of the best from the previous decades. It was why he proved to be a crucial component of the Arsenal backline when he joined from Borussia Dortmund in 2018. His physical nature and excellent understanding of the game provided much needed experience to The Gunners backline. It helped Arsenal stay within the top confines of the Premier League title despite The Gunners not always looking their best. After failing to get much game time at the start of the 2020/21 season, Sokratis left London to join Greek side Olympiakos for regular football. A quiet end for one of Greece’s more prominent players of the 2010s.