From Nino Sallusto to today
They came to Thessaloniki from all over the world –from 58 countries to be exact- in order to put on the PAOK shirt. The first one, however, was in Greece for a different reason. Nino Sallusto, recorded as the first foreign footballer of the club, was an Italian student at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and joined PAOK in 1959, making the most of a regulation concerning students back then. He signed for one season, but failed to impress. Nobody knows is he rendered better in his studies…
It took 14 years for the next non-Greek players to cross the Toumba threshold, as the regulation permitting the participation of foreign footballers in the Greek league came into force in 1974-75. PAOK then acquired Swiss goalkeeper René Deck and Brazilian striker Guerino Neto.
In the following years, especially after the introduction of Greek football in the professional era in 1979, signing of foreign players became the rule rather than the exception. The Bosman ruling further boosted the European Union football market and non-Greek players started gaining ground and claiming several positions in PAOK’s roster.
Most of the 231 foreigners who have played for PAOK throughout the years, are Europeans –a total of 142. There are 44 South-Americans on the list, 39 stem from Africa, two from Central America, three from Oceania and one from Asia.
Brazil is the country most represented with 25 players, Serbia is second in the list with 17, Portugal is third with 12 players at PAOK, Poland has eleven, while Spain (9), Egypt (8), Croatia and Bosnia (8) complete the top seven.
In the current season, PAOK has 21 foreign players on its roster: Zivko Zivkovic, Stefan Schwab, Andrija Zivkovic, Adelino Vieirinha, Thomas Murg, Joan Sastre Vanrell, Filipe Miguel Barros Soares, Dominik Kotarski, Ivan Tarek Fjellstad Nasberg, Luis Rafael Rafa Soares, Andre Miguel Lapa Ricardo, Brandon Tomas Llamas, Taison Barcellos Freda, Tomasz Kedziora, William Troost-Ekong, Abdul Rahman Baba, Mbwana Ally Samatta, Magomed Ozdoev, Soualiho Meite, Marcos Antonio, Kiril Despodov.