Young centre-back Pantelis Hatzidiakos made his breakthrough at AZ Alkmaar last season and is looking to build on an impressive debut campaign. 

  • By Michael Bell
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Born in Athens to a Greek father and Dutch mother, Hatzidiakos began his career in the youth teams of Panathinaikos before making the switch to AZ Alkmaar in 2011.

The defender made his first-team debut during a Europa League tie against Athletic Bilbao on the 10th of January 2015 and would appear four more times in the Eredivisie before the end of the campaign. The following season, Hatzidiakos only made 5 appearances for the first team but was part of the Jong AZ side that won the Second Division title to gain promotion to the Eerste Divisie along with the likes of Teun Koopmeiners, Calvin Stengs and Myron Boadu.

Last season Hatzidiakos started the campaign with Jong AZ but an injury to Ron Vlaar saw the youngster called into the starting eleven by John van den Brom and he didn’t look back. As AZ had an excellent season which saw them finish third, Hatzidiakos established himself as a key man in the centre of their defence, making 26 appearances.

The now 21-year-old has been rewarded with a bumper new deal and will start the new campaign in the centre of the AZ defence.

Hatzidiakos represented Netherlands at U16 and U17 level but has since switched to Greece and is currently a U21 international. It is not yet known whether he would switch again should the Netherlands ever come calling.

Style of Play

Having spent many years coming through the ranks in the Netherlands, Hatzidiakos is now a typical Dutch centre-halve that is strong defensively but also strong in possession of the ball and capable of dribbling out of the defence.

Hatzidiakos is an excellent reader of the game, strong in the air and has plenty of pace to recover should he find himself out of position. The most impressive part of his game, though, is his passing ability with Hatzidiakos completing 89.8% of his attempted passes last season (1156/1371)

The only area Hatzidiakos could improve in is his aerial ability with the youngster losing 34 out of 63 aerial duals last season.

What to expect from Hatzidiakos this season

This will be Hatzidiakos first full campaign as a starter in AZ’s line-up and the expectation on his shoulder will be higher than ever. After a disappointing start to the campaign in the Europa League, Hatzidiakos will be keen to form a strong partnership with Ron Vlaar and keep AZ in the battle for the top three.

The Greece U21 international was one of the revelations of last season and will be a strong campaign would put him in the picture of top European clubs and could see him earn a full national team call-up.

Michael Bell (59 Posts)