Top scorer Giakoumakis surprises fellow countrymen: ‘He almost never scored here’

Top scorer Giakoumakis surprises fellow countrymen: 'He almost never scored here'
Giorgos Giakoumakis was allowed to take the ball home three times this season. Photo: Pro Shots

Football experts in Greece look with amazement at the performance of Eredivisie top scorer Giorgos Giakoumakis. The VVV-Venlo striker is already at twenty goals after nineteen games, while he was not exactly known as a goal-scoring machine in his native country.

“I can hardly believe that he is doing so well at VVV at the moment,” said Antonis Tsirakis, journalist for the Greek sports newspaper Sportime. “And I’m not alone in that. Actually, everyone in Greece tries to understand why he is so good in the Netherlands and why he didn’t show it here.”

Giakoumakis scored no less than four goals in the home game against Vitesse (4-1) on Wednesday. With twenty league goals in total, the 26-year-old Greek has already scored more goals this season than in his last four years together.

Only in the 2016/2017 season did he show a glimmer of his killer instinct with eleven league goals for the Greek Platanias. “Then he left for AEK Athens, where he struggled with his form and almost never scored again,” said Johnny Georgopoulos, sports journalist with the Greek Gazzetta.

“Most people therefore initially thought that his series of goals in the Eredivisie was pure coincidence, but now more and more Greeks have come to believe in his qualities.”

For users of the app: tap the video to watch how VVV-Venlo announced the arrival of the Greek striker in August.

‘He had never made a hat-trick in his career’
Without playing for a minute, Giakoumakis already went viral in his native country with his announcement video. In the video – in addition to technical director Stan Valckx who tries to write out the name of Giakoumakis – Greek culture is also emphatically present. “That was smart and also very flattering for the Greek players,” said Georgopoulos.

In his first match on behalf of VVV, Giakoumakis immediately made a hat-trick on a visit to FC Emmen (3-5). “That was actually unimaginable, because he had never done a hat-trick in his career,” said Georgopoulos. “It boosted his confidence and he doesn’t seem to stop ever since.”

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Giakoumakis already made his third hat-trick of the season against Vitesse on Wednesday and is still four goals away from the record for most goals in one season on behalf of VVV, which is currently credited to Hans Sleven with 24 goals.

The last Eredivisie player with at least twenty hits in the first nineteen rounds of play was PSV player Ruud van Nistelrooij in the 1999/2000 season.

“If someone had told me this at the start of the season, I would have thought they were crazy,” said Tsirakis. The attention for Giakoumakis in Greece is now growing by the day. “Every day you read in the Greek media about his game at VVV and all the rumors about his next club.”

‘In Greece, it might not even stand out’
Georgopoulos knows why Giakoumakis is performing so well in the Netherlands. “Confidence. VVV director Valckx visited him himself last season when Giakoumakis played in Poland and with that he convinced him. Giakoumakis felt the confidence from day one.”

The fact that Giakoumakis thrives a lot better in Venlo than in Greece is easy to explain, according to Tsirakis. “Greek top clubs give young Greeks few opportunities. There is a lot of pressure from the supporters and the emphasis is much more on the defensive aspect.”

“It might be a bizarre thought at the moment, but some think that that’s why Giakoumakis wouldn’t even stand out in the Greek league in this form.”

The goal production of the VVV top scorer irrevocably also leads to rumors that he will leave Venlo this winter. “But I expect that he will finish the season in Venlo and only then will leave for a million dollar”, said Tsirakis. “Personally I think the Bundesliga suits him best, but I also misjudged his chances at VVV, so it’s hard to predict.”

For the time being Giakoumakis is wearing the VVV shirt. This weekend he will be hunting for more goals in the game with Fortuna Sittard. The Limburg get-together in the Fortuna Sittard Stadium starts on Saturday at 8 p.m.