After only four games for new club Apollon Smyrni, former Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers forward Anthony Stokes has been let loose by the Greek Super League side.
Stokes landed at the Greek club after a run of disciplinary problems at Hibernian undermined his position at Easter Road. Now it seems that this ill discipline has returned to haunt the Dublin-born forward. Today’s release by the struggling Greek side comes after what the Daily Record said was a case of the player going AWOL.
The Daily Record, reporting two days ago, intimated that Stokes’ “short spell in Greek football” looked doomed as the player “hasn’t been seen for over a week.” With this absence from the club burning away at the powers-that-be, it was obvious that something would have to give.
According to the Daily Record, the bosses at the Greek club were not looking to back down and that they were “making moves to terminate his contract.” That seems to now be the case, with football transfer tracking website FootballDatabase.eu saying that he left the Greek club yesterday, Friday 20 April.
Stokes first came in to regular football when Sunderland plucked him from Arsenal’s reserve set-up in January 2007, paying the Premier League big guns £2.7 million for his capture. He featured in just 38 games for Sunderland (five goals/one assist) before falling out of favour and seeing loan deals to Sheffield United in October 2008 (12 games) and Crystal Palace in March 2009 (13 games/one goal).
The Black Cats sold him on to SPL side Hibernian at the end of August 2009 and it was his performances in that season that saw Scottish giants Celtic shell out £1.3 million for his services. At the Bhoys he was on fire, featuring in 192 games, scoring 76 goals and providing 66 assists.
He joined Blackburn on a free transfer from Celtic on July 1 2016, featuring in 12 games for Rovers (three goals) and scoring five in six games for Blackburn’s Under-23. After Blackburn’s relegation to League One, it was a move back to Hibernian and that run of indiscipline that seemingly shows no sign of ending.
His sacking by Apollon Smyrni does mean that he’s free to join another club next season, but will clubs be willing to take that risk on a firebrand player who only last year had to pay £200,000 in damages after an assault on an Elvis impersonator in Dublin?