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The Roar



The latest son of a South Australian cult hero, making a splash in Greece

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Roar Guru
7th December, 2022

Ex players Cassio, Richie Alagich, Carlo Talladira, Cristiano and Fernado Rech share many things in common

Besides all being cult figures with either Adelaide City or Adelaide United, they all have sons following in their footballing footsteps.

While all their offspring are enjoying various degrees of success, another son of a former South Australian fan favourite is steadily progressing in Europe – with little fanfare.

Adelaide-born Dimitri Valkanis was a player I had earmarked with the potential to be professional football player at an early age.

The prodigious defender was making waves in the junior teams of Metrostars, who are one of Adelaide’s premier clubs of youth developement – before the family moved to Greece

If you’re wondering why the surname Valkanis sounds familiar, that would be in relation to his dad – Michael Valkanis, who is on his own European coaching journey with Eupen in Belgium.

Michael was a tough tackling, take-no-prisoners defender and although Dimitri plays in the same position – he is more of your modern day passing centreback, capable of initiating attacks.


Dimitri’s star is growing rapidly, accepting an invitation to an under 19 training camp this week – but it wasn’t for the country of his birth Australia, it was for Greece.

Valkanis Jnr will spend three days at Greece’s National Sports Centre in preparation for an upcoming tournament.

The Greek Football Federation have been after the Valkanis for some time and believed once the player got his Greek passport, there would be no hesitation in lining up for the country of his ancestory

However, he initially declined the offer to represent the Greek under 17 side, as he wanted to follow in his father footsteps and play for Australia.

With Australia showing a lack of interest, the Greek FA tried again and have now been successful in having the youngster agree to the under 19 call up.

Michael Valkanis

Michael Valkanis. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Dimitri has steadily been progressing through the various age groups at AEK Athens after initially being seen at Panionios.


In his first season with AEK he was part of the under 17’s that made their way to the leagues semi-finals, before moving up to the Under 19s this year – where he has been a mainstay, playing 10 matches already.

Valkanis’s technical ability is what really makes him stand out, especially when compared to the physical nature of other centrebacks in this age group in Greece.

Playing predominantly as right sided centreback Valkanis thrives under the added pressure of astarting attacks for his side.

This is standard for most modern day centrebacks, but it is highly unusual in this age group to see a player dribble so gracefully 20-30 yards without ever appearing to break a sweat or be in danger – that really separates Valkanis from his peers.

His ability to go on a mazy run that bypasses several opposition attackers before passing the ball onto his teammates – reminds me a lot of a player many consider to be Australia’s greatest ever centreback, Milan Ivanovic.

Just like Ivanovic, Valkanis has a deceptive turn of pace and can see danger before it happens – he has also inherited his father Michael’s ability to know when to slide into a tackle or stay on his feet.

The 17-year-old is not the tallest of centrebacks, standing at just over 6 foot at 184cm and physically he will need to add more muscle to his frame – to be able to cope with stronger bodied strikers.


Regardless of that, there is more than enough technical ability and skill to suggest a career in football professionally – then there’s also younger brother Giannis who is ascending through the ranks at AEK Athens as well

Unlike his older brother and father who are both centerbacks, 15-year-old Giannis has broken the mould and plays as a defensive midfielder in the AEK Athens Under 17 side.

Giannis will have his time in the sun, but right now it’s all about Dimitri’s steady progress.

The Greek FA have shown Australia exactly how to handle a player who initially rejected them, with constant communication and reassurances – winning a race that Australia was never truly a part of