Theofanis Gekas is the man Greece are banking on to score their goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. The much-travelled striker was his side’s leading marksman during the qualifiers, hitting ten goals in all, six of them in the two meetings with Latvia, and having a big hand in their return to the top table of world football after a 16-year absence.
Gekas has gained a reputation for such feats, finishing the 2004/05 season as the leading scorer in the Greek Super League and topping the Bundesliga charts with Bochum two years later, achievements that did not go unnoticed by national coach Otto Rehhagel.
His somewhat circuitous club career began in the late 1990s at second division side AEL 1964. Gekas then joined league rivals Kallithea, playing a part in their promotion to the top flight. In all he scored 30 goals in his 87 matches in the second division.
He found the back of the net another 32 times in 73 outings for Kallithea in the Greek Super League, an impressive haul that brought about a move to Panathinaikos in 2005, just one of the many clubs who had been following his exploits. Having finished that season as the country’s leading scorer, it was no surprise when he was drafted into the Greece squad for the FIFA Confederations Cup Germany 2005.
Leaving Pana for a number of reasons in 2007, he moved to Bochum on loan, quickly bringing his finishing skills to bear for the Bundesliga side and earning the praise of the fans and coach Marcel Koller for his dependability in front of goal.
From Bochum it was on to Bayer Leverkusen, where he made an instant mark by scoring seven goals in a pre-season friendly.
Opportunities were few and far between during the season that followed, however, and the campaign ended with a loan move to Portsmouth that failed to bring a change in Gekas’s flagging fortunes.
On his return to Leverkusen he faced stiff competition from Stefan Kiessling and others and was farmed out again in late 2009, this time to current club Hertha Berlin. He kicked off with a goal in his debut against Hannover 96, and though the Berliners spent the rest of the season languishing at the wrong end of the table, the Greek striker still managed to score a goal every two games.
Goalless in their only world finals appearance to date at USA 1994, Greece are looking to Gekas to break their duck in South Africa. Given his record of 20 goals in just over 40 international outings, he certainly looks the man most likely to find the net.