Frankfurt - He may not yet have featured in the current Bundesliga campaign, but Eintracht Frankfurt legend looks set to play a key role in the promoted side's challenge for a European qualification spot.
'Eternal Oka', as he is affectionately known by the Eintracht fans, has been presented with the unlikely chance to shine again following first-choice goalkeeper Kevin Trapp's injury blow. With the club he joined as a 17-year-old back in 1991 aiming to bring their six-match winless run to an end in Sunday's encounter at bottom side Greuther Fürth, the 38-year-old's vast experience, spanning some 221 Bundesliga and 150 Bundesliga 2 appearances, might well come in handy.
"I've seen so many things in my career, gone through highs and lows, good and bad times," Nikolov told German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau before admitting that even after over 20 years in the spotlight, reclaiming his spot between the Frankfurt sticks means an awful lot: "It's likely that I'll be nervous ahead of the game, but I'd be in the wrong place if that wasn't the case any more. It's important to have that tension."
Though regular No1 Trapp has enjoyed an outstanding campaign since joining Frankfurt in the summer, it is highly likely that Eintracht's supporters will give their cult hero a warm welcome when he steps out at the Trolli Arena this weekend.
"Hoping to stay"
Nikolov has only featured for 70 minutes this season - in a 3-0 DFB Cup first round defeat by Bundesliga 2 side FC Erzgebirge Aue - and he accepts that there will be questions over his sharpness for Fürth: "You can't compare training sessions to matches, these are two very different animals." In terms of fitness, however, Nikolov has few doubts, insisting he was "feeling good and ready".
Despite turning 40 at the end of next campaign, Nikolov fully intends to extend his contract which runs until the end of June: "I've discussed this with Eintracht. I make no secret of my hope to stay." On that basis, it sounds like we'll be seeing plenty more of 'Eternal Oka' yet...