His surname may be too long to print on the back of a football shirt, but that hasn't stopped Sokratis Papastathopoulos forging a reputation for himself as one of the Bundesliga's most uncompromising - and effective - defenders.

Hailing from the southern Greek city of Kalamata, Sokratis first came to the attention of football fans in his homeland when he moved to AEK Athens as a 16-year-old in 2004. After a loan spell with lower league side Niki Volou, he soon emerged as a first-team regular on his return to AEK, playing right through in their 2007/08 UEFA Champions League campaign and becoming the side's youngest ever captain, aged 19, in a game against great local rivals Panathinaikos in 2008.

Italian adventure


His stock rising having man-marked Lionel Messi to great effect in Greece's FIFA World Cup 2010 encounter with Argentina, Sokratis then moved abroad, to Serie A, signing for CFC Genoa. Two seasons and 59 appearances later, European heavyweights AC Milan made the San Siro his new home.

Not for long though: In search of regular first team football, Sokratis made a brief return to Genoa before being farmed out on loan to SV Werder Bremen in 2011, where he swiftly proved his worth in a team undergoing a period of transition.

From Bremen to Borussia


Bremen accordingly made use of their option to sign him long-term towards the end of 2011/12. Yet, though his dedication for Werder's cause was unwavering throughout, his two years at the club, during which time he made 59 appearances, scoring twice, proved far from positive and almost resulted in relegation in 2013.

However, Papastathopoulos' leadership qualities didn't go unrecognised as he was handed an opportunity to prove himself at the highest level once again by 2013 Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund. The Greek international has been proving his point at BVB, stepping up in a big way following a season-ending injury for Neven Subotic, his rock-solid performances ensuring him a well-deserved place on the Greece 2014 FIFA World Cup squad.