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Mzansi-Born Star Explains Why He Represents Greece, Not SA

Johannesburg-born Bundesliga starlet Panagiotis Retsos, who is the most expensive South African footballer in history, told Soccer Laduma in an exclusive interview why he decided to represent Greece rather than his country of birth.

Click through the gallery above to see some other players who were born in Africa, but represent European nations.

The 20-year-old defender became the most expensive SA-born player when he joined Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen from Olympiacos for €17.5 million (R287 million) in August 2017.

He is currently recovering from a tendon injury picked up in pre-season, but is close to making his first appearance of the 2018/19 campaign.

Thanks to Soccer Laduma's partnership with Germany's top flight, David Kappel was able to chat to Retsos about several topics, including his international allegiance.

The centre-back opted to represent Greece over South Africa, and made his national debut on 31 August 2017, in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Estonia. Overall, he has made five appearances for the European nation so far, and he told Soccer Laduma why he chose Greece over Bafana Bafana.

"It was a choice because my whole life I was living in Greece," Retsos said.

"So Greece is something very special to me, because I spent my whole childhood there, so I decided to go with Greece.

"For me, I'm connected to two countries and I love both very much."

Read: Barca Loanee Equals 55yo Bundesliga Record

The Leverkusen defender left South Africa when he was just one years old, but says he is planning to visit his country of birth next year.

"I was born in 1998 in Johannesburg and I moved to Greece – my father is from Greece – in 1999 when I was one years old," he added.

"Since then, I have not been to South Africa, but I'm planning to visit after the season."

Retsos made 28 appearances for Leverkusen in his first season with the club, and also ran out 40 times for Olympiacos, where he became the team's youngest captain ever.

You can read the full interview, in which the starlet also speaks about the pressure of his transfer fee and his targets with the Bundesliga side, in this week's edition of Soccer Laduma, issue 1095.

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