Sutherland Sharks midfielder Panny Nikas is a rare breed and a valuable commodity.
A dynamic goal scorer from deeper positions, Nikas’s partnership with Nick Stavroulakis in the centre of Sutherland’s midfielder has been the fulcrum on which the Shire side has built it’s success.
Robbie Stanton’s side are currently sitting in the top three and have high hopes for this season, after a disappointing 2012 where they missed out on the finals, despite winning the Waratah Cup.
Nikas is a crucial cog in the Sutherland machine and his expectations are also high.
"We want to win the Premiership," Nikas said. "Since Robbie (Stanton) has been here, it’s the only thing we haven’t won.
"In the last couple of years, we’ve set high standards.
"We also want to place an emphasis on good football. So number one: we want to win the Premiership and number two: we want to do it playing good football."
Nikas was previously part of the A-League at the now defunct North Queensland Fury and prior to that, at the Central Coast Mariners.
Despite regularly being among the top performers in the State League, Nikas has continued to be overlooked at National League level.
At the age of 24, Nikas’s desire to return to the A-League still burns brightly.
"I’m not sure why I keep getting overlooked," he said,
"I have to keep working hard. I had a good year last year and I’ve had a good start this season. If I can keep scoring goals from midfield then hopefully I can get to the next level.
‘I’m really training hard and to get back into the A-League would be an honour."
It is no surprise that a midfielder as skillful as Nikas can translate his skills to other forms of football, but beach soccer is a relatively new phenomenon in Australia. Nikas was part of the Beach Socceroos recently, and looked back fondly on the experience.
"It was a great experience," Nikas said. "We didn’t have the amount of preparation as teams like the UAE and Japan, who have professional leagues. Hopefully from this experience though, we can improve football as a whole.
"It’s competitive, but it’s a different atmosphere. It’s very serious every minute that you’re on the beach, but it’s all about enjoyment and that’s something I try and take back to outdoor.
"That approach where you’re working hard but enjoying it – that’s what makes you value the game."
– by Matthew Connellan