Yiannis Okkas

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Yiannis Okkas (born February 11, 1977 in Larnaca, Cyprus) is a retired football striker. Besides playing for four different clubs in the homecounty he played for Celta de Vigo in Spain, and Olympiakos Piraeus, AEK and PAOK in the Greek Championship. Okkas also played for the Cyprus national football team. He is the most capped player for Cyprus national football team. He was a talented, speedy forward with excellent dribbling skills. Although he is not very tall, he frequently found the target with his head.

National team

At the age of 19, he was called into the Cypriot national team and has been a regular ever since, passing the 50-cap mark in 2003 and the 100 mark on October 8, 2010.

He scored three goals in his side's failed attempts to qualify for the 2002 FIFA World Cup and was also on target in UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifying, notably against France. Cyprus may have lost 2-1 at home to France in a recent Euro 2004 qualifier, but those 90 minutes were a personal triumph for Yiannakis Okkas.

The forward opened the scoring early on with a delicate chip that left French keeper Gregory Coupet completely stranded, and generally was a man inspired. His clever movement, speed and ability with the ball at his feet meant he often proved too hot to handle for France's much- vaunted centre-backs, Marcel Desailly and Philippe Christanval. His forward's dribbling skills posed a conundrum that the former rarely solved, while the latter seemed a nervous wreck every time Okkas came near him.

Okkas wore the jersey of Cyprus for the last time on October 11, 2011 against Norway. He retired as captain of the team scoring the only goal for Cyprus in the 3-1 defeat in Oslo. He ended his international carreer after 103 caps and as second all-time scorer for Cyprus national football team (27 goals).

Club

Now renowned as one of the most talented players to emerge from Cyprus, he started his career at the age of 16 with Nea Salamis FC and joined cross-town rivals Anorthosis Famagusta FC four years later after 16 goals in 53 matches.

1997: Joining the league champions was a step up for Okkas, who helped Anorthosis make it four titles in a row.

2000: Okkas signed for PAOK FC and scored seven times during a first year which brought success in the Greek Cup and the Cypriot Player of the Year award. At the final against Olympiakos, Okkas scored two goals and PAOK won 4-2. Missed just one league game in his final season at PAOK, scoring eleven goals before joining AEK Athens.

2003: It was a tough first full season at AEK for Okkas, who scored just five goals. Following a FIFA intervention over unpaid wages, however, he secured a fresh start at Olympiakos CFP in August, signing a three-year contract.

2004/05: In his first season in Piraeus, Okkas played in 25 league matches including 19 substitute appearances and scored five times as the club completed the double. Notably, the first goal he scored was also Olympiakos' in the newly re-built Karaiskakis Stadium. In addition, he featured in all six UEFA Champions League matches.

2005/2006: Joined by the other Cypriot star Michalis Konstantinou, Okkas had a similarly successful season, celebrating another double. Both of his most memorable performances came against former team AEK Athens. He scored and was declared MVP in the first derby, that ended 1-3 in favour of Olympiakos and also scored the first goal in the repeat triumph. The ease with which he misses goal scoring opportunities, however, made him a scapegoat for the Olympiakos fans.

2007: Okkas transferred to Celta de Vigo becoming the first Cypriot to play in Spain.

2008/2009: He returned to Cyprus to play for Omonia Nicosia. At the end of the season, however, he was dropped and, in July 2009, he signed up with Anorthosis once again.

2009/2014: Okkas is a mainstay in the attack of Anorthosis.

2014/2015: He started as a player for Ermis Aradippou FC but when the coach was sacked, Okkas took over the position of manager but was dismissed just two months later.

Trivia

For two consecutive years, Okkas scored the first league goal of the season in Greece, with AEK in 2003/04 and Olympiakos the next season.

External links

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