Panakis was born on June 8, 1933 and came to Panathinaikos from PAO Kalogreza, at age 18. He survived the difficult years of the 1950s when Olympiakos almost monopolised the championships of Greece and captained PAO in their glory years of the early 1960s. He stopped playing in 1965. Over all, he played in 171 league games, scoring 86 goals.
Panakis was actively involved in veteran players activities and served as the President of Panathinaikos' veteran players' association.