A few years ago a young Cypriot in the Manchester United academy named Nick Ioannou came to the attention of scouts as he made his Manchester United U18 debut. Today, we see how his career has progressed and whether or not he lived up to expectations.
At the time Ioannou was one of the most highly rated prodigies in the youth setup. This was demonstrated when Paul McGuinness called him up to play in the Under 18 side at just 16 years old. He was born and raised in Cyprus, son of Demetris Ioannou. Nick’s father was a very successful defender known in Cyprus for his size and strength.
These are qualities that his son inherited and developed which helped him become a Manchester United youth player. The fact that United brought an 11 year old all the way from Cyprus, with the hope that they could unlock his potential, tells us that he must have been very highly rated by United scouts from the very start.
Despite this, Ioannou would never fulfil what was expected of him at Old Trafford. On the 24th of April 2014, the club released a statement which read,
Ioannou joins Apoel Nicosia
“Manchester United’s Nicholas Ioannou has completed a move to Apoel Nicosia. The centre-back has been officially unveiled as an Apoel player after agreeing a switch back to his native Cyprus. Ioannou was regularly involved with the Under-18s this term and also featured in the UEFA Youth League for the Reds. The defender captained the team on his final Academy appearance when helping keep a clean sheet against southern section leaders Tottenham Hotspur in a 1-0 victory. We would like to wish Nicholas all the best for his future career.”
Injuries had halted Ioannou’s progress and seen him slip down the pecking order. After 8 years at Old Trafford, he left for home to join APOEL in his native country.
He signed a three-year contract with APOEL. On joining the club, Ioannou said “My main aim is to win trophies of course, but obviously I need to start playing. APOEL play in big competitions – Champions League and Europa League– so hopefully I can get a few games.”
Ioannou made his debut against Helsinki in July 2014 playing for APOEL in a 2-2 draw. In his first season he only appeared in seven matches however he was part of the team which did the double, the cup and the Cypriot Championship.
Ioannou’s time in English football may not be over yet. A few months back, hitc.com reported that Ioannou was being tracked by “a number of Premier League and Championship clubs”. They stated that “Ioannou could be available on loan or permanently as he seeks more game-time”.
Nick is coming into the final year of his contract and is reportedly under the radar. So could he fulfil his potential in English football after all?
By Oliver Haines – @PlayedItBlind