DIMI KONSTANTOPOULOS has expressed his delight at the career turnaround that has led to him signing a new one-year contract with Middlesbrough.
Konstantopoulos’ new deal was confirmed yesterday morning, and while the 35-year-old will be on the bench this afternoon as Jason Steele returns to the starting line-up for the final game of the season at Yeovil, he will kick off next term as Boro’s number one.
That scenario represents a remarkable change from the situation that existed when Aitor Karanka was appointed as Middlesbrough manager last November. Back then, Konstantopoulos was the club’s fourth-choice goalkeeper and was still to make his senior debut.
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Karanka gave him a chance in January’s FA Cup third-round defeat to Hull City, and when Shay Given’s return to Aston Villa coincided with a hand injury to Tomas Mejias in March, Konstantopoulos was promoted to the first-choice starting XI.
He has not looked back since, and having previously spent four seasons at Hartlepool United, the Greek goalkeeper is delighted to be extending his stay in the North-East.
“That’s the beauty of football – you never know what will happen next if you keep working hard,” said Konstantopoulos, who made 139 appearances for Pools between 2003-07. “I’m just so glad to have been given the chance, especially as the competition for the goalkeeper’s position is so strong here.
“The manager always says he will reward players who put the effort in and I’ve tried to take that message on board.
“This whole season has just got better and better for me, and to agree this new contract is just fantastic. I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time at Boro and I look on the North-East as my home now.”
Konstantopoulos’ fortunes could yet take an even more unexpected turn for the better, as he suddenly finds himself with an outside chance of making the Greece squad for this summer’s World Cup finals.
His only international cap to date came back in 2010, but Greece boss Fernando Santos has indicated he is in the running for a place in the provisional squad that is due to be announced later this month.
“That would be a dream,” said Konstantopoulos, who was born in Thessaloniki, and who was playing with AEK Athens before moving to Middlesbrough last August.