PAOK FC announce they acquired Miroslav Stoch from SK Slavia Praha. The Slovak winger returns to Thessaloniki, five years after his first spell, having signed a 3-year contract.
He left PAOK in 2014. He had an excellent season, but his spell seemed incomplete. He hadn’t offered everything he could, he hadn’t won titles in order to pay back the love received by the club’s faithful. At the back of his mind, he always entertained the thought of returning to Thessaloniki – and he did return with the first opportunity he got.
Miroslav Stoch returns to PAOK to settle… old accounts from his first spell, to help the “Double-Headed Eagle” remain at the top and make the extra step in European competition.
The Slovak player’s profile
Miroslav Stoch was born on 19 October 1989 at Nitra, Slovakia. «Mino» (a nickname his sister came up with, due to his diminutive stature) started playing football at the age of six in his local club’s academy Nitra.
Due to restrictions in the Slovak league, players cannot sign a professional contract before the age of 16. Therefore, the members of Nitra’s administration were waiting, calendar in hand, to check out when their prodigy would be able to join the senior squad.
A fortnight after his 16th birthday, he made his professional debut in the encounter between FC Nitra and FC Spartak Trnava. He wouldn’t stay long at the Slovakian outfit, as he was acquired by Chelsea for their youth sides.
His impressive performances for Chelsea U18s led to his promotion to the senior team. In November 2008, he made his Premier League debut against Arsenal FC at the age of 19. He would make four appearances for the Blues, before being shipped on loan to FC Twente.
His career really took off in the Eredivisie. In 45 appearances (all competitions included), he conjured up 12 goals and 5 assists, helping Twente clinch their first league title ever! He caught the eye of many scouts. Fenerbahçe SK proved the most determined, splashing 5,5 million euros to acquire him.
He made a flying start in the Turkish game, with three full seasons and a leading role at Fener, adding one league title and two Cups to his collection. He attracted worldwide interest in 2012, as his stunner against Gençlerbirliği SK earned him the «FIFA Puskás Αward» for the most beautiful goal of the year, beating Radamel Falcao and Neymar in the process.
In the summer of 2013, Fenerbahçe SK decided to loan him and PAOK were quick to make the most of the opportunity. Stoch went on to score 10 goals and serve 12 assists in 50 encounters (all competitions included).
The Turkish outfit extended his contract in June 2014 and sent him again on loan, to Al-Ain FC. He remained in the double digits, scoring 10 goals and providing 11 assists.
Just before the transfer window of the 2015-16 season closed, he landed at Bursaspor KD, before returning again to Fenerbahçe SK. With 5 goals and 3 assists to his tally, mainly after coming off the bench, it was obvious that his spell in Turkey was all but over.
SK Slavia Praha put their faith in him and paid Fener 1 million euros to bring him to the Czech Republic. He had a remarkable first season. As usual, he adapted quickly, scored 6 goals and served as many assists in 39 encounters.
That brings us to 2018-19. The diminutive Slovak starred in Slavia’s magical season that saw them land the domestic double and reach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League. Stoch had 14 goals in 13 assists last season and was a vital cog for his side. His performances didn’t go unnoticed by PAOK, who made their move.
Mino wanted it, the “Double-Headed Eagle” as well, Slavia put no obstacles and Stoch returns “home”.