Dimitri Diamantakos Interview: I know that if I get one chance, I'll score
The Greek spoke about the start to his footballing journey, the team’s dynamics, his experience in India and outside, and his thoughts on Kerala’s love for football.
Kerala Blasters FC have started off the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season in brilliant fashion and currently find themselves at the top of the table after winning five of their opening eight matches.
It has been one of the best starts for the Blasters in the ISL and a big part of it can be attributed to their Greek forward, Dimitrios Diamantakos.
With Diamantakos leading the attack line, Kerala Blasters FC have been incredible and they have now become one of the most consistent teams in the league.
The 30-year-old has already had five goal contributions in six league games with one assist and four goals, two of which came against Chennaiyin FC in their Matchweek 8 encounter to salvage a point against their south Indian rivals.
Diamantakos sat down for an interview with indiansuperleague.com and spoke about the start to his footballing journey, the team’s dynamics, his experience in India and outside, and his thoughts on Kerala’s love for football.
Here are the excerpts:
How did you start playing football and how did you become a professional footballer?
I started (when I was) 5-6 years old at an academy. That’s when I got a chance with one team in the fourth division (in Greece). From there, I went straight to Olympiacos with a professional contract when I was 15 years old. I played for the national team through my academy and from there I was signed for Olympiacos. At Olympiacos, I went on loan to some teams, after I went to Germany, Croatia, Israel and now I'm here.
Who were your inspiration to be a footballer and how did you decide that you want to be a footballer?
In the beginning, I started as a swimmer. I (did) swimming for eight years, from the age of four to eleven. I also played football and I had to choose between the two. I loved football more and I decided to be a football player. But nobody inspired me. Since I was a kid, I have played with the ball all the time. I always wanted the ball at my feet.
How did you come to India? How did you come to Kerala Blasters FC?
It was one time that I wanted to explore the market in Asia. I (got to) know about the team and the huge fan base. Also, I spoke with head coach Ivan (Vukomanovic) and I saw the benefits. I told myself that it was the right time to come to Asia and also to India because every year the league and also the team were growing.
When you came to Kerala, did you expect so much fan support? What do you think about Manjappada?
No. To be honest. All I was told was that they have a really huge fan base and it would be amazing, but I didn't expect what I saw when I played the first game, I couldn't believe it because it was so crowded, so many people. But it is not just in our stadium. When I came, I went to Dubai because the team was in Dubai and there were like 5000 people. And I was surprised. I said, what's going on? Our fans are, really, really amazing. And they support us a lot everywhere whether we play home or away.
How do you analyse your performance this season?
I had one injury and I lost all the pre-season. But it's over now. I think I'm back in the form, in good shape. In the last two games, I scored to help my team. I think now it's the Dimi of last year. The Dimi that everyone knows who scores goals and helps the team.
What is your opinion about Ivan Vukomanovic and how is your relationship with him?
I have a really good connection with Ivan. He knows me well now. I also know him well. I know what the style of the football he plays. I like the kind of football that he plays because he plays offensively. He knows a lot about football. He's a really good coach and I'm happy that I cooperate with him because he gives you freedom. He knows what he wants. He knows specific things. And for us, he makes our job easier if we follow him.
How do you stay consistent as a striker, especially in a club like Kerala Blasters FC where you know every time you touch a ball, they expect you to score a goal? How do you stay consistent amidst so much pressure?
No, for me it's not pressure because I know myself and I know that if I have one chance, I will score. I believe in myself. But I must say that the most important thing is the chemistry in the team.
There have been some changes to the Kerala Blasters FC team this season, with the addition of Daisuke (Sakai) and Kwame Peprah. So how is this team different from the one you had last year?
I think we try every year to be better than last year. I think this year we're much better than last year We became stronger if we see the points. If we compare last year and this year, the first five games, six games and the last six games, we are better. Daisuke gives us extra help from the side and we try to use that. Peprah also is a very powerful player and it gives us something different.
Adrian Luna has been in terrific form from the start of the season. How do you feel the support you get from him affects your gameplay?
He gives me more freedom. I know that I will always get the ball when I move because he knows my movements. He knows how I move when and where I want the ball. For a striker, this is important because he can understand me and he makes my game easy.
What is your opinion on Ishan Pandita? People have big hopes for Ishan Pandita as an Indian striker. What do you see? How do you analyze his game?
I think he's a really good striker. But the problem is that, you know he has also one injury. He needs game time to gain more confidence. I hope now that he has more time with us in training, he will take his chance and he can show what he is because he's a really good player with good technique. He understands where he needs to move. For us, it's one extra help because we need good strikers that can score and help us win.