Dimi joins Middlesbrough
Dimitrios Konstantopoulos or ‘Dimi’ as he is more commonly referred to, joined Middlesbrough in August of 2013.
The then 34-year-old had spent the last several years plying his trade in his home country of Greece. However, when he joined Boro, he was a free agent and training with lower-league outfit, Hartlepool, at the time.
Dimi was signed whilst Tony Mowbray was in the Middlesbrough dugout and under Mowbray, he was seen as a back-up option to now Brighton man, Jason Steele.
However, four months into Dimi’s stint at the Riverside, Mowbray would be replaced by former Real Madrid assistant, Aitor Karanka.
The Spaniard would persist with Jason Steele as his no.1 during the early months of his time on Teesside.
But Karanka eventually handed Dimi his first league start for Middlesbrough on the 8th of March 2014. Boro came out on top that day, with Dimi putting on a fine display to earn a clean sheet. And from there, Dimi would go on to cement a name for himself as one of Middlesbrough’s most impressive keepers since Mark Schwarzer.
Dimi shines as Middlesbrough secure promotion
The one-time capped Greek international would maintain his no.1 status for the rest of 2013/14, keeping five clean sheets in 12 outings.
What played out in the following two campaigns will no doubt make the now 42-year-old a Middlesbrough legend for years to come.
After languishing in the bottom half of the Championship for several years, Aitor Karanka was able to transform the North East outfit into one of the Championship’s most formidable sides with very little money spent.
2014/15 saw Middlesbrough finish 4th in the league, and though they would eventually go on to lose the play-off final to Norwich, that campaign was still a huge stepping stone for Boro.
The cornerstone of Karanka’s success on Teesside was Middlesbrough’s backline and Dimi was key to that.
During his first full season as Boro’s no.1, the Greek would keep 21 clean sheets in 40 Championship outings, conceded just 29 goals – the best record in the division that term.
And in 2015/16, Dimi was once again an absolute brick wall. The former Coventry man managed 22 shutouts in 46 league ties, as Boro once again boasted the best defensive record in the Championship en route to their promotion to the Premier League.
101 have since caught up with Dimi to chat about his time with Boro and his plans for the future.
Reflecting on his time at the Riverside, Dimi would name his best memory from his stint with the club.
And much like many Middlesbrough fans in recent times, Dimi opted to pick up that nerve-racking 1-1 draw with Brighton on the final day of the 2015/16 season as his favourite moment:
“The final whistle of the Brighton game when feelings of relief joy and excitement kicked in.”
Boro would begin the day 2nd in the Championship, only above 3rd place Brighton via goal difference.
As a result, Karanka’s side knew they needed just a solitary point to secure automatic promotion. And when 90 minutes were said and done at the Riverside, that is exactly what they managed.
The dying moment of said tie would see Brighton’s Bruno float a ball into the Boro box. Dimi would rise highest to collect the cross before clutching the ball to his chest.
After some time-wasting, he then booted the ball down the pitch to the sound of the final whistle and immense roar of the Boro faithful.
This, combined with his sensational 2014/15 and 2015/16 campaigns saw Dimi form a great relationship with the Middlesbrough fans, and that it is something he still shares to this day:
“It still is a great relationship of mutual respect and love with the Middlesbrough fans. They took me in straight away and that is everything a player could ask joining a new club.”
Another fan favourite on Teesside during their promotion spell and since his return to the club in 2019 is coach, Leo Percovich.
And during his interview with 101, the former Middlesbrough shot-stopper also spoke of his relationship with Leo:
“Leo is a colourful character, has a lot of passion and it shows. While working with him he managed to maintain me physically and mentally throughout the season. He was very good at that.”
Working with Victor Valdes & life after retirement
Following Middlesbrough’s promotion to the Premier League, they would opt to sign former Barcelona star, Victor Valdes and Brad Guzan
This, much to the disappointment of many Boro fans, saw Dimi handed just one appearance during their 2016/17 campaign.
When asked what it was like working with Valdes by 101, though, Dimi gave little away:
"It wasn't as I expected it to be!"
Dimi has since left Middlesbrough in 2019. And at 42, he is now looking more into his career as a coach, confirming to 101 that, if the opportunity arose, he would like to return to Middlesbrough as a coach:
“I am doing my coaching badges and already have a few I want to stay involved in football, and that is the plan. Of course, if it happened with Middlesbrough it would be ideal as I love the club, but we will see what happens.”
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