Bad Ragaz - While speed on the ground might be one of the more precious commodities in the modern game, it isn't the be all and end all for Borussia Dortmund's new signing Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
Here to play
Speed of mind is what he believes makes the difference at the top level, and that is one thing the defender has in abundance, and one he believes makes up for his lack of zest in the sprint. “What’s decisive is the way you read the game and your mental speed,” he said
The 25-year-old has shown that at previous clubs Genoa CFC, AC Milan and Werder Bremen and says he hopes to do the same again in 2013/14 as a regular at the heart of the Westphalians’ rearguard. “Nobody likes to sit on the bench,” he said. “I came here to play and I’m not afraid of the competition for places.”
Papastathopoulos will be confident of gaining his fair amount of playing time of playing too given his versatility which makes him equally at home at the heart of the defence, or on the right. “I can play both positions,” he said. “What matters is where the coach wants me to play.” Dislodging one of central defensive Neven Subotic or Mats Hummels will be no easy task, but with an injury to right-back Lukasz Piszczek, the Greece international can nail down a starting berth.
The erstwhile Bremen captain has learnt from some of the best in the business having spent a season alongside Brazilian international Thiago Silva, now of Paris Saint Germain FC fame, while Italian veteran Alessandro Nesta also helped show him the ropes. “I learnt a lot from people like Thiago Silva and Nesta,” he told bvb.de website.
He admits that “maybe, at the age of 21, it was too soon for me to play for such a big club”, but he has matured impressively since then and is now able to pass on his own experience, garnered also from a fair share of UEFA Europa League and Champions League appearances for his former clubs.
Dortmund will do well to make the most of the Sokratis' accumulated knowledge over the years, especially in what may be his competitive debut for the Yellow-Blacks against FC Bayern Munich in the German Supercup on 27 July. His Bundesliga bow is expected to be on Matchday 1 of the new campaign away at FC Augsburg on 10 August.