• Haris Stamboulidis playing for Australia's schoolboys (Picture supplied)
Melbourne City's rising star Haris Stamboulidis revealed his dream of playing for his country Australia despite serious overtures from Greece.
By
Philip Micallef

4 Jun 2015 - 8:00 AM  UPDATED 4 Jun 2015 - 5:21 PM

Midfielder/defender Stamboulidis is a bright prospect and his precocious talent has been noticed beyond these shores.

The Hellenic Football Federation has started a worldwide campaign to lure players of Greek heritage to the national colours and 18-year-old Stamboulidis has not escaped the 'net'. He has already played two matches for Greece's under-19s against Ukraine this year.

Stamboulidis is on the shortlist for a spot in the Greek team to take part in the European Under-19 Championship in Greece in July.

While he feels proud to have been selected to play for Greece, Stamboulidis admitted that his heart lies with the green and gold.

"I was born and raised in Australia, so of course my ambition is to play for Australia, which is my country," he said.

"I also have lived and played in Uruguay but Australia was and will always be my first preference.

"That's basically the idea even though I have been fortunate enough to be given an opportunity by Greece, where I had the chance to train at AEK Athens under Greek legend Stelios Manolas.

"Playing for their under-19s is an honour but of course playing for Australia would be the ultimate honour."

Stamboulidis has dual citizenship and since he is under the age of 21, he would be still be eligible to play for Australia if selected and should he play in the under-19 Euros for Greece.

Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou is believed to be keeping an eye on the progress of Stamboulidis, who played for Australia at schoolboy level this year.

So is this another classic tug-of-war in the offing?

"It is hard for me to answer that question. I have been given an opportunity by Greece which I'm very thankful for," Stamboulidis said.

"Hopefully one day Australia comes knocking but these things are out of my control.

"Then perhaps we could call it a tug-of-war.

"There's no point worrying about things that are beyond your control and in football you never really know what's round the corner."

Stamboulidis said he wanted to make it very clear that his approach towards international football was by no means a 'come and get me or you'll lose me' message to Australian selectors.

"I understand that for whatever reason I have not been looked at," he said after being overlooked for Joeys and Young Socceroos selection.

"So I'm just working harder with my club Melbourne City to stay fit and be mentally strong.

"It's all I can do, I'm not asking for anything."

Juggling his education and football commitments will be a stiff challenge for Stamboulidis but he is able to look at it rationally.

"The life of a professional footballer is something I've always aspired to and worked towards," he said.

"But having said that I have to keep my options open because anything can happen and you can get seriously injured.

"Studying and playing require a similar discipline as it is only you who can achieve high standards in both."

Stamboulidis, who is studying commerce at Melbourne University, is likely to accept an offer from Columbia University to further his studies in New York City if a scholarship is extended to him.

In a twist of fate, Melbourne City is aligned with parent club Manchester City that also owns New York City FC, which made its debut in Major League Soccer this year.

"It is quite fitting that being in the City Football Group I might have a chance to go to Columbia and be involved in the New York City club," he said.

"A few weeks ago I visited the New York City club and I was showed around by (former Manchester City and United States star) Claudio Reyna.

"News reports suggest that the football club will most likely build a 30,000-capacity stadium on the old university field so I think the stars might be aligning for me."