Theofanis Gekas (Greek: Θεοφάνης Γκέκας) (born 23 May 1980) is a Greek football striker who currently plays for the German club Eintracht Frankfurt. He has been the top goalscorer of the Greek League and the Bundesliga in previous seasons. He was the top goalscorer of the Europe section of 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification for scoring 10 goals in Greece's successful qualifying campaign.
Gekas started his professional career at his local club AEL 1964 (then of the Greek Second Division). In the summer of 2001 after three years at AEL 1964 he moved to Kallithea FC. In his first season Kallithea was promoted to the Greek first division. Gekas had scored 30 goals in 87 second division matches.
Gekas continued to score goals, generating more interest in him from top Greek clubs. After scoring 32 goals in 73 matches Gekas moved to Panathinaikos during the 2005 winter break. At his new club Gekas kept up the scoring and became top goal scorer of the Greek league in 2005 (17 goals). He shot into the national squad, where he made his debut in the 2-0 World Cup qualifying victory against Albania in March 2005, despite never having represented the Greek national side at junior level. In the Confederations Cup 2005 Gekas was part of the team of the European champion. In the 2004–05 season he also became the Greek Superleague Top Goalscorer.
With Panathinaikos, Gekas scored 23 goals in 41 appearances. In the season 2005–06 Gekas made his debut in the UEFA Champions League and came second in the Greek top goalscorers list.
The 2. Fußball-Bundesliga club VfL Bochum already showed interest in Gekas in the spring of 2006, but Panathinaikos wanted €1.5 million for its forward, which was too much money for the German club.
But in the summer of 2006 Panathinaikos signed Greek top scorer Dimitris Salpigidis from PAOK FC Thessaloniki - one of the reasons was that Gekas did not want to sign a long-term contract. As part of the deal Gekas should have been transferred to PAOK, but Gekas refused to be transferred to the club. Panathinakos's owner Giannis Vardinogiannis felt personally insulted and loaned Gekas to newly-promoted VfL Bochum for only €300,000. VfL Bochum had the right to buy Gekas for €700,000 at the end of the season if they remained in the First Division.
During the 2006–07 season VfL Bochum was again fighting against relegation, but within a short period Gekas became one of the stars of the team and very popular among the fans. They called him the "Greek god" and his goals were celebrated with Sirtakis. Coach Marcel Koller accurately described him in November 2006 as their "life insurance," as Bochum not only avoided relegation, but also secured their place in the Bundesliga quite a few matchdays before the last, mainly due to Gekas' goals. He went on to finish the season as top scorer in the Bundesliga, with a final tally of 20 goals.
At the end of April 2007 VfL Bochum intimated that Gekas would play for Bayer 04 Leverkusen starting in the following season. The transfer fee was not immediately certain because the two clubs chose a quite bizarre construction: Bayer 04 Leverkusen would pay €700,000 at the end of the season to Panathinaikos, and if Bochum were to be relegated, they would get €1.5 million from Leverkusen, but if they were to remain in the Bundesliga First Division they would get €4 million. Gekas' future salary at Bayer Leverkusen is estimated to be €2 million a year, four times what he earned at VfL Bochum.
Gekas' first game for Bayer Leverkusen was a friendly which Bayer won 15-1; Gekas scored seven of those 15. However despite a promising start and being the top scorer for Bayer Leverkusen in the 2007-08 season, Gekas has been consistently dropped by coach Michael Skibbe making mostly sub appearances. Following an injury to teammate Dmitri Bulykin, Gekas was place back into the starting 11 and made quite the come back; scoring three goals in three games including two winners against SV Hamburg which earned Leverkusen a quarter-final spot in the UEFA Cup in March 2008.
Loan to Portsmouth
On 2 February 2009 he signed for Portsmouth on loan for the remainder of the 2008–09 season. Gekas was brought in by manager Tony Adams with a view to a permanent deal however, very soon after his move Adams was sacked and replaced by caretaker Paul Hart. Gekas was not given any games and went on to criticise Hart and stated his desire to leave the club, with Zenit St. Petersburg reportedly interested. On 11 April 2009 he finally made a substitute appearance for one minute when he came on for Jermaine Pennant.
His loan period was terminated by Portsmouth on 21 May 2009 two weeks earlier than initially expected as he apparently refused to play against Sunderland. He then returned to Bayer Leverkusen.
Back in Germany
Bayer Leverkusen return
In the summer 2009, Gekas came back to Bayer Leverkusen and became the top scorer in the European section of the qualification for 2010 World Cup. Competing with Stefan Kießling, Eren Derdiyok and Patrick Helmes for a place in Bayer's starting formation, Gekas failed to establish himself because he was not played and left the club after half a year.
Loan to Hertha
On 17 December 2009 Bayer Leverkusen signed a half year loan deal with Hertha BSC.
Gekas already found the net in his first official game for Hertha, when he scored in Hertha's 0-3 away win against Hannover 96 on 16 January 2009. Despite a promising start, Hertha continued to struggle at the bottom of the Bundesliga table. His most notable performance came on 21 March 2010, when he scored a hat-trick in the 1–5 away victory over German champions VfL Wolfsburg. Hertha eventually failed to avoid relegation, with Gekas' short spell at the club coming to an end. He ended up scoring 6 goals in 17 appearances for the club.
On 19 May 2010, it was confirmed that Gekas signed a 2 year contract with the German club Eintracht Frankfurt. Gekas has thus far scored 14 goals in 17 appearances to lead the Bundesliga scoring charts.
Gekas helped his country's team to reach UEFA Euro 2008 and also became the Top scorer 2010 World Cup Qualifiers UEFA section with ten goals, one more than Rooney. At the 2010 World Cup he helped the team to reach the first victory at a World Cup. Gekas is also fifth in the top scorer ranking of the Greek national team. On 9 September 2010, Theofanis Gekas officially announced his decision to retire from the national team of Greece, due to "special circumstances inside the team", as he mentioned. This was the third player retirement after the departure of coach Otto Rehhagel, following Sotiris Kyrgiakos and Ioannis Amanatidis.
* Greek Superleague Top Goalscorer: 2004-05
Shortly after the 2008 European Championships his wife Vasso gave birth to twins Nikolaos and Mikaela-Lamprini.
1. ^ "Theofanis Gekas". VI. http://www.vi.nl/Spelers/Speler/Theofanis-Gekas.htm. Retrieved 4 February 2010.