BEHIND THE SHIRT
Nicholas Ioannou: the interview
Born in sunny Limassol, on the southern coast of Cyprus, Nicholas Ioannou has followed in the footsteps of his father Demetris Ioannou, former captain of the Cyprus national team and widely regarded as one of the greatest Cypriot centre backs of all time. After being spotted by Manchester United scouts, a twelve year old Nic headed to England to pursue his footballing dream. After eight years with the Academy a hip injury led to him missing out on a professional contract.
This did not deter Como 1907’s defender who pushed forward and joined Cypriot club APOEL. Back home, he made his debut in the first team, going on to win five national titles and playing at the highest level in the Champions League. His impressive performances led to a return to England when he signed a contract with Nottingham Forest in September 2020 before coming to Como on loan in 2021 before signing permanently in July 2022.
With a wealth of experience, Nicholas tells us in this interview about the role of his father in his career, his perception of the game, and his life outside football.
On his favourite football memory
In his years dedicated to the beautiful game, Nic recalls the dream of every young footballer, playing in the Champions League: “I was 18 years old, I got to play against Edison Cavani, David Luiz and Lucas Moura of PSG at the time”. A magical night for Nicholas as that APOEL team almost defeated the French giant.
His role model
When asked about who he admires most in the world of sports, Nic says his father: “I’ve looked up to him since I was young, he’s helped me a lot in football. I really admire him.” He has been there for Nic throughout his career, imparting advice that has been crucial for his son to deal with setbacks: “My father always told me to never give up, because throughout my career I’ve had setbacks that have affected me mentally. He told me to work hard and someday it will pay off.”
On what makes the best fullback
After a successful first half of the season with three goals and three assists, Nicholas has already equaled last season’s goal contribution. He believes with his position versatility is essential: “I think nowadays in modern football, a lot of the play comes from the fullbacks and you need to have the stamina to be able to do both, attack and defend . I enjoy this position because I can do both. So I’m involved in most of the game.”
If you could change any rule of the game, which would it be?
If there’s one thing that Nicholas doesn’t like about football it’s offsides: “Sometimes if you go to score a goal and you play like a centimetre offside, you lose the opportunity to go ahead. I think it would be a good idea to change this in football to give an advantage to the striker. You get more playing time as well because we get a lot of offsides in a match.”
Trance music is the key to game day preperation
Gamedays are all about activating your body for Ioannou. Before the match, he makes sure to do some mobility work and get a massage to get his muscles ready for the intense role of a fullback. He also enjoys listening to music: “I listen to a mix of Greek and English, and also trance music just to get pumped.”
A joker in the locker room
If teammates were to describe Nic, they’d say he’s always down to have a good laugh. When asked about the funniest players on the team, Ioannou laughed, responding: “I’d say, Ben Kone and Marco Curto, they’re my favourite teammates to joke around with. We pull pranks, and we joke with everyone. It’s a good laugh and we bond with everyone on the team.”
Where does he see himself once he hangs up his boots
“Maybe as an agent? I like to search for players and see how they develop. That’s one of the things I would like to do in the future.” Ioannou, isn’t too sure which path he would have taken if not football’s, but he does have an inclination towards business: “I want to be a businessman. I don’t know in which industry though. I do like investing as a hobby. Now, I’m into properties. I like going to sites and viewing houses to see if I can find any good investments. I see it as a way to make my future easier in life.”
His perfect day in Como
“After a training session with Como, I’d go home to eat and then go out for a walk around Como Lake to enjoy the view with my wife (Nic got married this Summer). For dinner, one of my favourite restaurants is Platea, it’s near the funicular, I would recommend anyone to go there.”