Only a few individual players' influence on a team transcends mere statistics, and Dimitrios Diamantakos is undoubtedly one such player for Kerala Blasters FC. Adrian Luna may stand as the most decorated and influential player for the Blasters, but the significance of Diamantakos cannot be understated. Entering his second season with Kerala Blasters FC, the Greek forward continues to assert himself as a goal-scoring phenomenon.

During his debut campaign in India, Diamantakos demonstrated his technical finesse and tactical astuteness and proved himself to be a lethal finisher, tallying ten goals in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season. His contributions were pivotal in solidifying his position as a lethal forward in Ivan Vukomanovic’s squad, earning him a well-deserved contract extension for another season. Beyond his on-field exploits, Diamantakos's leadership and maturity have endeared him as a role model for his teammates.

In the absence of Luna for a significant portion of the season due to injury, the Greek forward stepped up to the challenge, showcasing his ability to lead the team's attacking endeavours. Once again, Diamantakos emerged as Kerala Blasters FC's primary goal-scoring threat, culminating in a stellar season marked by an impressive goal tally. His remarkable achievements were duly recognised as he was awarded the prestigious Golden Boot accolade, cementing his status as the league's top scorer with 13 goals.

Leading the Blasters through adversity

Vukomanovic was successful in cultivating leaders across different areas of the field, who made a significant impact both on and off the pitch. Centre-back Marko Leskovic, Luna, and Diamantakos exemplified such leadership, rallying their side with their skills. With the absence of the former two key players, the Greek forward assumed the bulk of the leadership responsibilities for the team and excelled throughout the season. 

Diamantakos demonstrated his capability of creating space for himself by dropping into the pockets and helping his side in link-up play with his teammates, which not only led to more chances created but also established numerical superiority in the midfield region. The forward formed such a partnership with Luna last season and continued to do so until Luna was sidelined due to injury.

However, Diamantakos admirably stepped up his game to compensate for Luna's absence and forged a dynamic duo with Kwame Peprah until the Ghanaian forward faced a season-ending injury. Diamantakos later adjusted to form a new partnership with the newly recruited foreigner, Fedor Cernych, after Peprah's injury. Injuries and changes in personnel posed challenges for the Kochi-based side, resulting in a gradual slip from the top of the table in the second half of the season. 

However, they tenaciously navigated their way from the top of the table to secure ISL Playoff qualification for the third consecutive season. But Diamantakos' injury towards the season's end proved costly, as the Blasters’ campaign concluded in the Knockout stage with a narrow 2-1 defeat to Odisha FC.

Impact of Diamantakos on Kerala Blasters FC this season

Despite being forced to adapt to different combinations due to injuries, Diamantakos remained steadfast in his primary role for the team — scoring goals. Recovering from an early-season injury, the forward faced a familiar struggle to find his rhythm, akin to the previous season. His breakthrough came against Odisha FC in a hard-fought 2-1 victory in Kochi, and from there, he didn't look back. He scored the winning goal against East Bengal FC at the Salt Lake Stadium in the following game. Diamantakos scored his first brace of the season against Chennaiyin FC in an exciting 3-3 draw at home.  Despite a setback against FC Goa in December's opening fixture, Kerala Blasters FC surged into the mid-season break, leading the table, with the Greek forward playing a pivotal role in three consecutive games—scoring in each match and providing an assist.

Golden Boot Race
Player Minutes Played Goals Mins/Goal
Dimitrios Diamantakos 1333 13 102.54
Roy Krishna 1753 13 134.85
Jason Cummings 1280 12 106.67
Diego Mauricio 1286 11 116.91
Noah Sadaoui 1821 11 165.55

However, the second phase of the season proved challenging for the Blasters, suffering seven defeats in ten matches and ultimately sliding to fifth place in the table by season's end. Nonetheless, Diamantakos continued to deliver vital goals. He struck against the Kalinga Warriors in the return leg, despite ending on the losing side. Notably, he secured braces against FC Goa and Mohun Bagan Super Giant, with another goal coming in a 1-1 draw against Jamshedpur FC. Unfortunately, an injury sustained against East Bengal FC abruptly ended his season, following Kerala Blasters FC's exit from the playoffs knockout stage. Nonetheless, until his injury, he maintained a commanding lead at the top of the goal-scoring chart, unassailable until the season's close.

Roy Krishna came close, but with a superior goals-to-minutes ratio, Diamantakos clinched the coveted Golden Boot accolade, previously elusive in his debut season. Additionally, the 31-year-old boasted the highest number of shots (32) in the Kerala Blasters FC camp, with 23 on target. Beyond his goal-scoring prowess, his boots contributed three crucial assists throughout the season.