Launceston City goalkeeper Niko Giantsopoulos has big goals for his adopted NPL club

STAYING PUT: Goalkeeper Niko Giantsopoulos has given new leadership to Launceston City. Picture: Paul Scambler
STAYING PUT: Goalkeeper Niko Giantsopoulos has given new leadership to Launceston City. Picture: Paul Scambler

Among the astute decision to seek out big-time signings, heroic Canadian goalkeeper Niko Giantsopoulos could well be a breath of fresh air.

The bold offseason moves that Launceston City had not been accustomed to over the years has reaped instantaneous benefits to compete with its bigger spending rivals. 

But beyond performance on the pitch that has City level on points with Giantsopoulos’s ex-NPL Tasmania club, his influence is set to exceed a single season alone.

The 24-year-old joined star striker Tyler Fischer not only as the side’s bookends from defence to attack, but mentoring a future direction.

“We knew what we were getting ourselves into joining the club, but I don’t think we really realised how much of an impact we could have this year,” Giantsopoulos said.

“It’s been a completely different role to anything before.

“I am the vice-captain this year and, along with captain Daniel Syson, I’ve kind of jumped on to that and taken up that leadership role.

“I am still only 24 years old. To be a leader of a NPL club at that age is pretty rare and I want to take advantage of that. I’m enjoying it on the park and behind the scenes.”

But that gritty leadership came to the fore back in 2016 on one cold, soaked wintry night at Valley Road in front of a national TV audience.

He was the man who was lauded for a list of desperate saves that salvaged a fairytale win for Devonport City.

All of a sudden the Toronto native became all the talk overnight when the Strikers became the first Tasmanian team to advance into the round of 16 of the FFA Cup.

But contrary to perception Giantsopoulos is a little more than a mercenary to bring a first NPL title back to Prospect, he is more interested in creating a lasting legacy.

“It’s the little stuff that hopefully will be good in the end,” Giantsopoulos said.

“To take on all that not just for this year, but the goal is to bring in more players like Tyler and I. There is a benefit not just for this year, but five years on from now.”

KICKING ON: Giantsopoulos clears the ball during one of City's home games this year. Picture: Paul Scambler

KICKING ON: Giantsopoulos clears the ball during one of City's home games this year. Picture: Paul Scambler

Giantsopoulos is quick to credit the not-so-old guard for the success and starts reeling off a list of names: Jarrod Linger, Joe Dorazio, Shane Egan, Aaron Campbell, even Lachlan Clark, who he replaced in goal.

“Full credit to all of them – they’ve just been outstanding. They make me feel like I’ve been here for five or six years and I think it shows on the park when we play and celebrate as a team,” he said.

But among the pats on the back, there is a reason why Giantsopoulos joined City.

Wary of the club history, he wants to deliver trophies.

“I knew about City when I played for Devonport. There had been the top-four teams and the bottom-four teams – and I knew City were in the bottom four,” he said.

“But when I came here, I wanted to change that. 

“I want to bring City up to the top four, if not, win it all. I don’t think Tyler came here to lose and I didn’t either.”