Billy Konstantinidis has been battling against injury for most of this season as his new club Aris Thessaloniki battle for promotion from Greece’s Football League 2. Currently sitting in second spot with nine games to play, Aris are trailing Konstantinidis’s former team Panserraikos by four points with only one club to earn promotion to the Football League.
“They (Panserraikos) have a tough program and we are facing them at home which gives us the hope of finishing champions this season,” Konstantinidis told Football Central.
“We are constantly under pressure for points and of course our on field performances (the supporters have very high demands), there is no room for error considering promotion is for one team only.”
Konstantinidis joined the Thessaloniki club because of the exposure they get through the media and crowds, as well as the high standards they have due to their many years at the top. He is not the first Australian to sign for Aris, with now Western Sydney goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis spending a short time with the club in 2013.
Only a few years ago Aris were competing in Europe, including defeating Atletico Madrid in the 2010 Europa League, and boast a remarkable record of never having lost a European home match. Unfortunately due to financial difficulties recently they were forced into relegation.
“Aris are a huge historic club that comes with great demands in terms of behaviour, attitude and on field abilities,” Konstantinidis said.
In an interview with Neos Kosmos in 2013, Konstantinidis revealed he was in discussions with three A-League clubs – Adelaide, Central Coast and Melbourne Heart. Ultimately nothing came of those negotiations but he did trial with the rebranded Melbourne City a year later, as they looked to continue rebuilding their squad following a change in ownership. Once again, Konstantinidis found his path to the A-League blocked, but the striker seems happy with his current destination.
“Aris have some of the best facilities in the country combined with staff and trainers making it all the better experience on a daily basis. It reminds me a lot of my experience with Melbourne City,” Konstantinidis said.
The injury was a big blow for both player and club with Konstantinidis proving to be one of the more consistent forwards at this level after scoring 24 goals in his last two seasons. Those previous two campaigns marked a turn in form for Konstantinidis after struggling to find consistency earlier in his career, so to have spent much of the season on the sidelines is an especially cruel blow.
He has only made one start, but has appeared as a substitute four times since his move to Aris, and has found the net once.
“My injury has been a big set back physically and psychologically for this season, keeping me out of action for three months,” admitted Konstantinidis.
“I am now back from the injury and have been training the past five weeks without feeling any pain.”