Bouzanis 'Upset' At Olyroo Snub
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EXCLUSIVE: Despite playing three games for Greece U/19s, Liverpool's highly-rated Aussie keeper Dean Bouzanis, 17, is desperate to play for the Olyroos at the 2008 Olympics, says his agent.
“With Vuka [Danny Vukovic] out, I'd have thought he's the logical replacement. I don't see why they don't even call him into camp,” a frustrated Terry Palapanis, agent of Bouzanis, told au.fourfourtwo.com today.
“He got called into a Socceroos camp before he went to Liverpool. I just don't know why. Dean's upset about it, being an Aussie. Dean is extremely upset about it.
“If he was called up, he'd be on the next plane. 100%. Dean is where Vukovic and [Tando] Velaphi would love to be.
“Dean wants to play in the Olympics. I don't know why he's not been picked. People say his age, but Rafael Benitez doesn't care about the age of Dean.”
Bouzanis is currently in Dallas, USA, playing in a tournament for Liverpool reserves. On March 11, he played for the Greek U/19s in a 1-0 win over Serbia.
“As it stands, he'd love to be part of the Olyroos. He is currently first choice in the reserves at Liverpool and there's talk he'll be third choice keeper next season in the first team squad,” added Palapanis.
“All you hear about is Liverpool, Man Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea and we have an Aussie playing in the Liverpool reserves there and he doesn't get a look in.
“But he's doing really well at club level. Arnie [Olyroo coach Graham Arnold] knows exactly where he is. I've sent an email to Arnie, John Boultbee and Rob Baan, so they all know.”
With Danny Vukovic seemingly out of the Olympics equation, Arnold's keeping ranks now look thin with Glory's Tando Velaphi assuming the number one spot. To highlight the depth issue, state league based Justin Pasfield was recently called up to the squad.
And even though Velaphi performed admirably against Mexico in a recent friendly, many believe Bouzanis is the most talented keeper of all our young shot-stoppers. Certainly the Greek FA know about Bouzanis.
“They are trying to lure him,” said Palapanis. “They know he's an Australian and it's probably his preferred destination. The Greek FA keep flying over to Liverpool to watch his games and are in constant contact with Liverpool officials and me.
“They are flying over myself and Dean's father in May to talk to us. They've got European qualification matches [in the U/19s] in May. So they are continuously keen.”
Bouzanis, already on what is believed to be an impressive financial package, is said to be on the brink of a mega-five year deal with Liverpool.
And it's known the Reds would prefer him to play for Greece rather than Australia due to the travel factor.
What's more, from a financial standpoint, being an international keeper will no doubt up his bargaining power when it comes time to negotiate a long-term deal.
Bouzanis signed for Liverpool after a spell in January last year. He was loaned out to Sydney FC but when he was delisted from the A-League squad, the youngster hooked up with Liverpool in July.
He played in their academy side and in the FA Youth Cup – where Liverpool reached the quarter finals – before making his debut for the reserves last December. He is now listed as a first team squad member on the club's website.
“At this stage, yes, he will continue with the Greek U/19s but he's not going to make up his mind on who he plays for until a later date,” added Palapanis.
“There's nothing coming up with the Australian U/20s, no camps, and that's it. At this stage I think it's better for his career to play some games because he's a dual citizen there's no problem for him playing for Greece."
So, who does Bouzanis want to play for: Greece or Australia? “I'd say Australia, given the opportunity. But if he's not given the opportunity, or if people here regard others better than him, he'll probably play for Greece," said Palapanis.
As for reports recently about Sydney FC defender – and good friend of Bouzanis – Nicholas Tsattalios being courted by the Greek FA, Palapanis poured cold water over the idea.
He added: “They aren't interested. The Greeks have a fairly good side. I sort of started the ball rolling with him and the Greeks, but he's not on their radar."