Defiant Lampropoulos fights back
Last year, Vasilis Lampropoulos’ career appeared to be at a crossroads having being frozen out of the AEK team, but he has now earned a return to the Greek national team after getting back on track at Deportivo.
The AEK mess could, and should, have been avoided. Initially, Lampropoulos was a key member of the side at the start of the 2018/2019 season, but he was ostracized from the team alongside Andre Simoes and Tasos Bakasetas in November after reportedly refusing to extend his expiring contract. Later in the season, Simoes and Bakasetas did eventually pen new deals with the Kitrinomavri, but Lampropoulos wasn’t happy with the way he was treated and left AEK as a free agent in the summer.
Rumours had linked Lampropoulos with Panathinaikos, but the centre-back opted to make the move abroad, signing a two-year contract with Deportivo in La Liga 2. A decision which has resulted in Lampropoulos returning to the national team set-up for the first time since representing Greece in the 2018 UEFA Nations League.
It didn’t take Lampropoulos long to settle in Spain. Although Deportivo have struggled in terms of results, Lampropoulos has been a standout performer in defence, playing the full 90 minutes in nine of the opening 10 matches of the season. The only game which Lampropoulos missed was the 0-0 home draw against Almeria at the weekend as the Greek remained on the bench.
The way in which Lampropoulos has made a successful start to life in La Liga 2 shouldn’t come as a surprise. A loyal servant to AEK during his memorable five-year stay at the club, he made a big contribution to the Enosis’ best achievements, helping the organisation return to the Super League from the Football League, win the Greek Cup, become Super League champions and performing excellently against the likes of Robert Lewandowski in the UEFA Champions League. The fact AEK allowed the 29-year-old to go for free is a travesty in itself.
This is the chance for Lampropoulos to make an impression with the Ethniki Omada. Eager to see what different players are capable of, head coach John van ‘t Schip has named an experimental squad for the two upcoming games against Italy (October 12) and Bosnia (October 15), notably leaving Kostas Manolas and Sokratis Papastathopoulos out of the team. Lampropoulos will be hoping that Van ‘t Schip gives him minutes on the pitch.
Dimitris Siovas, Pantelis Hatzidiakos and Panagiotis Retsos are the other centre-backs in the Ethniki squad for the two matches with the Italians and the Bosnians. The versatile Michalis Bakakis, a former teammate of Lampropoulos at AEK, is also capable of playing in the centre of defence.