He was just eight years old when he joined the youth academy at PAOK from Doxa Pentalofou. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the diminutive Christos Tzolis showed even then that he was an astute and passionate player. An explosive forward with an extremely good eye for goal, Tziolis is versatile, good with both feet, and has been playing on the flanks for the last few years, where he also stands out for his creativity and the ease with which he can produce individual moments of class.
Born on January 30 2002 in Thessaloniki, he showed consistency and prudence in progressing through the basic stages of the educational process at the PAOK Academy. His performance also managed to make a video of an Under-12 match against Barcelona at the Camp Nou go viral. He attracted a lot of attention in 2015, when at the Lennart Johansson tournament in Stockholm, he scored 11 goals in 5 matches. Indeed, the class of 2002 was an eye-catching group of players.
Shortly afterwards, however, he left Greece for Germany for family reasons. There, he played at Rosenborg. He returned to PAOK in 2018 and in his first year playing for the Under-17 side he was the leading scorer with 29 goals in 25 matches. Although younger, he moved up to establish himself in the Under-19 team, and has since added two consecutive league championships to his resume, as well as two seasons in a row unbeaten. In the 2019-2020 season he was once again the top scorer, hitting 19 goals while serving up eight assists in 26 appearances. He also played in all four games in the UEFA Youth League, scoring a goal in the 2-2 draw with Dynamo Kyiv at the Toumba.
Tzolis is also a youth international with Greece. He scored six goals in nine games for the Under-17 team. Indeed, two of those goals were vital strikes against Kosovo which helped to send Greece into the Euro 2019 tournament for that age group.
After the unprecedented situation brought on by the lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Tzolis began training intensively with PAOK’s full senior squad. After proving himself ready for the big step, he won the trust of PAOK coach Abel Ferreira, and was handed his full first-team debut on June 7 in a Super League Play Offs match against Olympiacos. The next big highlight – a milestone he will always remember – came on June 20 when he scored an excellent goal against OFI Crete in another Play Offs match – his first senior goal.
With that goal Tzolis became the second youngest player, behind the great Giorgos Koudas, to score a senior goal for PAOK. Tzolis is one year older than Koudas was when he scored his first goal for PAOK in the Greek top flight on April 1, 1964. However, Christos did become the youngest scorer in the 2019-20 Greek championship after scoring a goal at the age of 18, four months and 21 days!