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Panos Armenakas exclusive: From Udinese to Panathinaikos to Zulte Waregem contract

Like everything else in the world this year, football was thrown into complete disarray when the coronavirus struck. Footballers suddenly were left with questions and no options, and it became hard to visualise your playing future for the short term.

Speaking exclusively to Tribal Football, Panos Armenakas details his journey this year that has taken him from an unstable time in Greece, to a training camp with his national team, before finally signing a contract in Belgium's Jupiler Pro League.

"It's been tough for sure, but I think more mentally than anything else," Armenakas said. "I was with the Olyroos in November we had the Dazu Rock Carvings Cup; it was a mini tournament in preparation for Olympic qualifying.

"I left the squad in January and my family was in London at the time and given the uncertainty with COVID-19 I was training every at home twice a day.

"It's been great finally signing a contract, after my time in Greece I wanted game time and more opportunities. From the conversations I had with manager Francky Drury the style suits me and it's likely he'll stay on which gives me peace of mind."

Panos has always been touted as one of Australia's brightest prospects, and many were hoping to see that come to fruition when he signed with Serie A club Udinese. Unfortunately for Panos, Udinese haven't had a manager for more than one season since Francesco Guidolin from 2010 to 2014.

The inconsistencies in management makes it near impossible for a playing group to settle, much less a young star who hasn't been given a proper run at first team football. Panos highlighted that Francky Drury's longevity with the club was part of the reason he chose to remain in Belgium after his brief stint with Roeselare.

"I won't have a situation like Udinese, I don't want any big changes. I want a coach who believes in me. He communicates well, great person, good coach, trying to adapt as best as I can. Two days after I signed, I was already on the bench, and I'm focused on what lies ahead here in Belgium.

"My aim is to play as many games as possible to the end of the season, and this should put me in good contention for the Olyroos squad next year. I want minutes under my belt, and I want to help the team succeed and push for Europa League. Of course, I want what's best for my squad, but I want to be in it.

"I'm very happy being at Zulte, it's a great league for young players and our development. I've got a routine, my own place, a car, I've settled really quickly."


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Chris Sermeno

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