Demis Nikolaidis
Nikolaidis with AEK Athens
Personal information
Full name Themistoklis Nikolaidis
Date of birth (1973-09-17) 17 September 1973 (age 48)
Place of birth Gießen, West Germany
Height 1.74 m (5 ft 9 in)[1]
Position(s) Striker
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1992–1993 Ethnikos Alexandroupolis 39 (14)
1993–1996 Apollon Smyrnis 80 (38)
1996–2003 AEK Athens 189 (125)
2003–2004 Atlético Madrid 22 (6)
Total 330 (183)
National team
1995–2004 Greece 54 (17)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Themistoklis "Demis" Nikolaidis (Greek: Ντέμης Νικολαΐδης; born 17 September 1973) is a Greek former professional footballer who played as a striker. He was the forty second president of AEK Athens FC, and is considered one of the finest footballers Greece has produced. In his early childhood and teenage years he lived in the city of Alexandroupoli, in the northeast part of Greece. In a sterling career with Ethnikos Alexandroupolis, Apollon Smyrnis, AEK Athens FC and Atlético Madrid, Nikolaidis earned his reputation as a "born goalscorer", scoring prolifically for club and country. His power, pace and skill on the ball have been widely praised.

Club career

AEK Athens

In his teenage years he played for Ethnikos Alexandroupolis, the local team of his hometown. The scouts of several teams had seen his progress from these years, earning him a move to Athens. He made his professional debut at the age of 20 at Apollon Smyrnis, and his performances sparked a bidding war between Panathinaikos and Olympiacos, and the striker's childhood favorite AEK Athens. Demis refused to join Olympiacos and forced his club president to sell him to AEK. At AEK, Nikolaidis linked up with some of the great Greek players of his generation, including Vassilis Tsiartas, Theodoros Zagorakis, Michalis Kapsis, Grigoris Georgatos, Traianos Dellas, Vassilis Lakis. With his new side, Nikolaidis excelled, scoring on his debut against Ionikos. During his time with AEK, Demis managed to win three Greek cups and the 1996 Super Cup, he was the topscorer in the 1999 Greek league and second scorer in the 2001 UEFA Cup (1 goal behind topscorer Dimitar Berbatov). He is the top scorer for Greek teams in European competitions having scored 26 goals in 51 games. He has scored five goals in a match twice and is the only Greek player to have scored 4 goals in a European match. Having scored a total of 21 goals in the UEFA Cup he is one of the competition's all-time topscorers. At AEK he scored 190 goals in 266 games (including European, cup and domestic league games) making him the fourth highest goalscorer for the club. On 24 March 2002, the International Committee for Fair Play awarded him with the Fair Play Award, an honorary diploma for his conduct in the Greek Cup Final on 8 May 2000, between the teams of AEK Athens and Ionikos, when Nikolaidis informed the referee he had used his hand to score a goal that had been allowed as valid.

Atlético Madrid

After quarrelling with owner Makis Psomiadis, later indicted for forgery, and allegedly being assaulted by his bodyguards, Nikolaidis decided the time had come to leave AEK after the 2002–03 season. He asked and left the team in a mutual consent free transfer, although he was already paid for the rest of his contract. Atlético Madrid beat several other clubs to land the striker's coveted signature. Seeing that his number 11 was taken, he wore the number 21 as a tribute to AEK and the Original 21 fan club. Nikolaidis' first months at the Vicente Calderón Stadium were a tremendous success, he scored six goals and formed a fearsome attacking pair with teenage sensation Fernando Torres. However, a series of serious injuries kept him out of the first team for nearly the rest of the season and severely affecting his chances of getting picked for Euro 2004. Although Atletico wanted to keep him to the roster of the team, Nikolaidis decided to retire from professional football.

International career

Demis made his debut for the Greek national football team on 26 April 1995 against Russia. Demis became the Greek national team's main source of goals. In 1999, however, along with Michalis Kasapis and Ilias Atmatsidis, Nikolaidis retired from the national team, protesting for injustice in the Greek League. Two years later, after the disappointing tenure of coach Vasilis Daniil was brought to an end after disappointing results, he returned to the international fold. In his first game back, Nikolaidis scored in Greece's 2–2 away draw to England during the 2002 World Cup qualifiers. New coach Otto Rehhagel focused his offense around the quick striker and was rewarded with direct qualification to the Greek team to represent Greece at Euro 2004. Even though struggling with injury, Rehhagel nevertheless included him in his Euro 2004 squad. Greece's new strike force, Zisis Vryzas and Angelos Charisteas, played well enough but Nikolaidis still figured consistently in the team, coming off the bench in all three group games before starting against France, and leading Greece to a tremendous shock victory. After that performance, however, Nikolaidis was seriously injured and did not even dress for Greece's last two games. He amassed 54 caps, netting 17 times for the national team and is among the top 6 goalscorers ever for Greece.

Chairman of AEK Athens

With AEK struggling in the wake of Psomiadis' corruption and the prospect of relegation to the fourth division looming, Nikolaidis retired at the relatively young age of 31. His next move, supported by all AEK fans, was to establish a consortium of businessmen and purchase AEK on 27 May 2004,[2] as he had always dreamed. Becoming the club's president, Nikolaidis set a goal that he would remove all debts that AEK owed and make them a force in Europe in the space of five years. He and technical director Ilija Ivić, a former teammate, made several clever signings and fought ferociously for the league title, finishing third when many had expected a mid-table performance. In his second year as president, after signing two promising Greece Under-21 players, as well as adding former star Vasilis Lakis, Ukrainian international striker Oleh Venhlinskyi and one time Inter centre back Bruno Cirillo, AEK achieved UEFA Champions League qualification. Apart from the improvement of the economic standards and the athletic performance of AEK, Nikolaidis called upon the league to do more to reduce violence and hooliganism.[3]

On 2 November 2008, Demis decided that he would quit as chairman of AEK after continuously poor results, stating that he had not achieved his goal in the 5 years plan. Nikolaidis said one of his reasons for quitting was that the team didn't sell 30,000 season tickets; he stated "If I had managed to convince the AEK supporters to come to the stadium then I would not be leaving. In my mind we need 30,000 to become a big team". During Nikolaidis's presidency, AEK had their first wins in Champions' League and the club made about 12,000,000 euros from selling players to other teams (like Kostas Katsouranis, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Dániel Tőzsér, Sotirios Kyrgiakos etc.).

Personal life

Demis was married to a Greek singer Despina Vandi who was also born in Germany and grew up in Greece. They have a daughter named Melina (2004), and a son named Giorgos (2007). A Discovery Channel documentary entitled Europe's Richest People estimated Nikolaidis and Vandi's combined fortune to be in excess of €25 million in 2014.[citation needed]. The couple announced their divorce on 15 July 2021 [4]

Career statistics


Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League Cup Continental Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Ethnikos Alexandroupolis 1992–93 30 7 0 0 0 0 30 7
1993–94 9 7 1 0 0 0 10 7
Total 39 14 1 0 0 0 40 14
Apollon Smyrnis 1993–94 Alpha Ethniki 18 5 0 0 0 0 18 5
1994–95 33 17 5 1 0 0 38 18
1995–96 29 16 12 10 2 0 43 26
Total 80 38 17 11 2 0 99 49
AEK Athens 1996–97 Alpha Ethniki 31 19 7 3 6 1 44 23
1997–98 26 19 1 0 5 2 32 21
1998–99 29 22 0 0 4 6 33 28
1999–2000 32 22 8 11 8 3 48 36
2000–01 25 15 4 4 8 6 37 25
2001–02 24 16 7 6 8 5 39 27
2002–03 22 12 2 1 12 3 36 16
Total 189 125 29 25 51 26 269 176
Atlético Madrid 2003–04 La Liga 22 6 1 0 0 0 23 6
Career total 330 183 48 36 53 26 431 245


Appearances and goals by national team and year
National team Year Apps Goals
Greece[5] 1995 4 2
1996 9 6
1997 7 0
1998 2 0
1999 8 3
2001 3 3
2002 8 3
2003 7 0
2004 6 0
Total 54 17
Scores and results list Greece's goal tally first, score column indicates score after each Nikolaidis goal.
List of international goals scored by Demis Nikolaidis
No. Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 1995–06–11 Helsinki Olympic Stadium, Helsinki, Finland  Finland 1–0 1–2 UEFA Euro 1996 qualifying
2 1995–11–15 Theodoros Vardinogiannis Stadium, Heraklion, Greece  Faroe Islands 2–0 5–0 UEFA Euro 1996 qualifying
3 1996–04–24 Athens Olympic Sports Complex, Athens, Greece  Slovenia 2–0 2–0 1998 FIFA World Cup qualification
4 1996–05–08 Zosimades Stadium, Ioannina, Greece  Georgia 1–0 2–0 Friendly
5 1996–05–08 Zosimades Stadium, Ioannina, Greece  Georgia 2–0 2–0 Friendly
6 1996–08–14 Athens Olympic Sports Complex, Athens, Greece  Albania 1–0 2–1 Friendly
7 1996–09–01 Kalamata Metropolitan Stadium, Kalamata, Greece  Bosnia and Herzegovina 3–0 3–0 1998 FIFA World Cup qualification
8 1996–11–10 Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia  Croatia 1–0 1–1 1998 FIFA World Cup qualification
9 1999–02–03 GSZ Stadium, Larnaca, Cyprus  Finland 1–1 2–1 Friendly
10 1999–03–10 Athens Olympic Sports Complex, Athens, Greece  Croatia 3–2 3–2 Friendly
11 1999–10–09 Ljudski vrt, Maribor, Slovenia  Slovenia 3–0 3–0 UEFA Euro 2000 qualifying
12 2001–10–06 Old Trafford, Manchester, England  England 2–1 2–2 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification
13 2001–11–10 Nikos Goumas Stadium, Athens, Greece  Estonia 1–0 4–2 Friendly
14 2001–11–10 Nikos Goumas Stadium, Athens, Greece  Estonia 2–0 4–2 Friendly
15 2002–05–12 Alexandroupoli, Greece  Romania 1–0 3–2 Unofficial Friendly[6]
16 2002–10–16 Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium, Athens, Greece  Armenia 1–0 2–0 UEFA Euro 2004 qualifying
17 2002–10–16 Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium, Athens, Greece  Armenia 2–0 2–0 UEFA Euro 2004 qualifying


AEK Athens





  1. ^
  2. ^ Nikolaidis strikes deal at AEK Archived 2 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Greece bans fan clubs to curb violence". FIFA. 4 April 2007. Archived from the original on 28 May 2009. Retrieved 6 May 2009.
  4. ^ "Despina Vandi and Demis Nikolaidis Divorce".
  5. ^ Demis Nikolaidis at
  6. ^ Alexander Mastrogiannopoulos (4 July 2006). "Greece – International matches 2001–2006 (Note: Romania used the "B" Team. The game was considered Unofficial)". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation (RSSSF). Retrieved 1 March 2008.
  7. ^ "Fair Play Award Winnwrs". n.d.[permanent dead link]