Olyroo Armenakas lands career kick-start deal in Belgium

Hazrat Gul Baran (L) of Austria competes for the ball with Panos Armenakas of Australia Source: Getty Images

Olyroos attacker Panos Armenakas has finally resolved his immediate future after being snapped up by Belgian Pro League side Zulte Waregem.

In a show of faith in the former Watford, Udinese and Panathinaikos prospect, coach Francky Dury has rushed the 22-year-old straight into the squad for Monday’s (AEDT) trip to Cercle Brugge.

Armenakas - whose last competitive match was for the Olyroos 10 months ago - described joining Socceroo James Troisi’s former team as “a breath of fresh air”.

The move comes two months after Armenakas’ switch to second-tier Belgium outfit KSV Roeselare turned immediately sour as the club slid into liquidation amid off-field scandals and financial irregularities.

After being undermined by club politics during a frustrating spell in Greece, it left the player once dubbed by The Guardian newspaper as one of the top 50 young talents on the planet needing to pick up the pieces again.

“What happened before (at Roeselare) was really a blessing in disguise for me because I now have this opportunity,” Armenakas told The World Game.

“I have my chance now at a club in a good league which is well known for developing young players.

“I’m really excited - it’s something that we’ve worked on for a while and I’m thankful to have all the documentation sorted out (on a one year deal with an option for a second).”

The team from West Flanders have won two Belgian Cups and achieved a highest ever league finish of second back in 2013.

But they’re third from bottom 11 games into this season and need a spark to get themselves away from danger.

“I think I’ll get my chance here for sure,” added Armenakas. “The coach believes in me and my qualities and I’m in the squad for tomorrow.”

Largely for reasons beyond his control, the Greek-Australian is playing catch up, his career yet to ignite in the way many imagined it might.

However this latest development might flip the switch for a player pushing to be a part of Graham Arnold’s 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games plans.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to finally show what I can do,” he added.

“This a great club with a lot of history and I think it’s the perfect next step for my development.

“I need to get games under my belt now and push forward.

“It was a tough situation at Roeselare and it’s surreal to think where I am now.

“The quality of the team is great. They're going through a bit of a rough patch now but I think we can get out of it for sure.”