Apostolos Giannou joins Guangzhou R&F, wants to play for Australia
Greek Super League top-scorer Apostolos Giannou has joined Chinese Super League club Guangzhou R&F from Asteras Tripolis, using the move to pledge allegiance to Australia in the process.
The Greece-born forward is the latest star to join the ambitious CSL project, with star names like Chelsea's Ramires and Roma winger Gervinho also opting to make the move to China.
Giannou, who spent his childhood growing up in Melbourne, scored 13 goals in the Superleague Greece with Asteras this season, and is eligible to play for the Socceroos, despite appearing in a friendly for Greece last year.
He represented Greece at the U19 and U21 level, before making his debut with the senior side in November 2015, where he came on as a substitute in a goalless draw against Turkey.
The 26-year-old was also in the matchday squad for the Euro 2016 qualifier against Hungary but did not get on the pitch, leaving him free to turn out in the green and gold of Australia.
Giannou made known one of the key reasons for switching his allegiance to the Socceroos, citing the efforts of Australian national team coach Ange Postecoglou as a huge factor.
"The effort of coming here [to Greece] to see me tells it all," Giannou told Fox Sports News.
"You don't need to say much. The thing about Ange, which I appreciate, is he didn't push me to play for Australia. He wanted to see how my mind was and how I thought about it.
"It hasn't been easy and obviously it's difficult to choose which country to play for since I feel the same for both countries.
"The politics here are more than usual, I know that Australia has been going upwards since Ange took over.
"Australia would be better for me as a footballer, to play for them and to give them everything I can and to bring the best out of me."
If all goes well, Giannou could make his Australian debut in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Tajikistan and Jordan in March. He also has the opportunity to go up against the country that brought him onto the international stage, when Greece travel to Sydney to play a friendly in June.
But for now, the striker is focused on his immediate task, to settle down in China and help the CSL continue its rise as one of the big-money leagues in world football.
"I think it's time for me to move on. I've been wanting to get out of Greece to play internationally in other countries.
"If it didn't happen in Europe, I think Asia is the next big thing."