AGONA Spotlight: Efthymis Koulouris, the unstoppable Greek hitman
At the weekend, Efthymis Koulouris was rewarded for his superb season with Atromitos, earning a permanent transfer to Toulouse in Ligue 1. In connection with the move, AGONAsport analyses his road to Greek stardom.
Not many people expected Koulouris to become the top scorer of the 2018/2019 Super League. However, proving his doubters wrong in the process, the 23-year-old finished atop the scoring standings with an impressive 19 goals in the championship. Only two of them were penalties too.
Thanks to Koulouris’ heroics, Atromitos claimed fourth place for the second consecutive year, but they’ll have to cope without him this time around as the striker has been snapped up by Toulouse. PAOK received 3.5 million euros for Koulouris’ sale.
PROGRESSION THROUGH THE PAOK ACADEMY
Born in Skydra, Macedonia, Koulouris joined up with the PAOK academy and was a key figure for the club’s youth teams. Initially, the striker managed to win the U17 Super League title with the Dikefalos tou Vorra, before subsequently winning the U20 championship. Incidentally, in that particular season with the under 20 PAOK team, he managed to break the scoring record which had previously been set by the well-known Stefanos Athanasiadis.
Eventually, on 13 February 2014, Koulouris broke into the PAOK first team. On that day, he was handed his debut in a Greek Cup tie against Apollon Smyrnis on the road, and he famously scored two goals in Rizoupoli:
LOAN TO ANORTHOSIS
In the following 2014/2015 campaign, he failed to really make an impression in the Super League, only racking up a grand total of 498 minutes on the pitch over the course of 14 matches without scoring a goal. As a result, PAOK opted to shift Koulouris out on loan in the summer, with the player making the move to Anorthosis Famagusta.
His time in Cyprus helped him adapt to the demands of senior football. At Anorthosis, Koulouris was mainly used as an impact substitute, but he still managed to bag six goals in 21 Cypriot First Division matches.
Koulouris’ best night for Anorthosis arrived in the Cypriot Cup. On October 29, 2015, Koulouris tallied an incredible six goals in just one match, as Anorthosis thrashed sorry Elpida Xylofagou 9:0. Unsurprisingly, this is the only time when Koulouris has scored six markers in one single professional game:
RETURN TO PAOK, GREEK CUP TRIUMPH
Willing to give him a chance in Thessaloniki, PAOK recalled Koulouris from his loan after the 2015/2016 season had reached its completion.
Koulouris made an ideal start to the season. On matchday two of the Super League, Koulouris made a statement of his intentions by scoring both PAOK goals in the 2:1 victory against Asteras Tripolis:
After that match, Koulouris did fall away slightly, but he still managed to end the Super League season with five goals as he was included in the starting line-up on a regular basis. Although he wasn’t in the team for the final, he also earned a winner’s medal in the Greek Cup with PAOK, as the Dikefalos tou Vorra defeated AEK in a dramatic encounter. Koulouris had scored one goal in the competition in a 7:0 beating of Panelefsiniakos:
Remaining in Thessaloniki for the 2017/2018 campaign, Koulouris only scored five goals in all competitions with PAOK winning the Greek Cup again, and the club sent him on loan to Atromitos for the next season.
STARDOM IN PERISTERI
Koulouris’ fantastic Atromitos stint started with an amazing goal in the UEFA Europa League. In August 2018, Atromitos were defeated by Dynamo Brest in the second qualifying round of the tournament, but Koulouris stole the headlines with a stunner in Belarus:
In the first match of the 2018/2019 Super League, Koulouris single-handedly defeated Panetolikos in Agirino, scoring twice in a hard-fought 2:1 triumph:
It was the start of something special. Rapidly gaining confidence under the leadership of the wily Damir Canadi, Koulouris simply couldn’t stop scoring in Peristeri, notably hitting the target in matches against AEK, Aris, Olympiacos and Panathinaikos. At the same time, Koulouris began to become a consistent member of the Greek national team, and he has now played in nine matches for the Ethniki Omada.
The jump to France is an ideal opportunity for Koulouris to take his game to the next level. Ligue 1 is a lot stronger than the Super League, and if he manages to adapt to the French style of football quickly, he should be a regular for Toulouse. Greek football is crying out for another player of the highest order.