AS a Hearts legend, Takis Fyssas isn’t accustomed to cheering on Celtic players. As part of the Tynecastle side that won the 2006 Scottish Cup and split the Old Firm to earn a Champions League spot, the Greek is still revered down Gorgie way, and the feeling is more than mutual.

These days however, Fyssas is the Sporting Director of Greece’s national team, and so his concerns in the Scottish game have now broadened to include a keen interest in the fortunes of Celtic striker Giorgos Giakoumakis.

The forward may have started slowly in Glasgow following his summer move from VVV-Venlo, as a host of health and injury problems beset his attempts at establishing himself in Ange Postecoglou’s side.

Arguably though, that makes his late charge up the charts to finish as top scorer in the country all the more impressive, given that all but one of his 17 goals for Celtic came after the winter break. And it begs the question of just how many goals he may be able to bag next term if he can remain injury-free and get a proper pre-season under his belt.

Such a prospect is of course exciting for Celtic supporters, but also for Fyssas, who believes there is so much more to come from the 27-year-old. Though he admits he has his fingers crossed that Giakoumakis’s goal-a-game ratio in his two matches against Hearts so far tails off at least a little.

“Of course we are keeping a close eye on Giorgos and we have seen him doing well this season,” Fyssas said. “We have been really pleased with him.

“At the start of the season he had a few problems on and off the park and he wasn’t in a healthy situation.

“But he managed to get over that and put it behind him and then he started playing and scoring.

“It was his first season and to finish as top scorer in Scotland, a year after being the top scorer in Holland is a great achievement.

“When I heard Celtic were interested in him and he wanted to move there I spoke to him about Scottish football. I told him that the Scottish league would be perfect for him.

“He’s strong, he’s clever, he scores goals, he works for the team and he had the right experience to do well.

“But I think he can do even better next season with Celtic. I hope he doesn’t do well against Hearts and I joked with him not to play so well against my old club.

“But he did so well and I wish him all the best in Scotland. For Greek football we need guys like him to be playing well in a good league.

“It’s in his hands. I don’t want to say too many things about him, because at the end of the day, he has to show to everybody that he is stable in his performances and he is getting better. So, for every one of us, it’s important to see his performances next season.

“What is important for Giorgos is to show everyone who he is, and try to be better. So, let’s everybody see how he is going to react.

“Of course I believe there is a lot more to come from him. This was his first season at Celtic and at the beginning, he didn’t start very well because of his problems with his health.

“If he can avoid injuries, get a good preparation, live a nice life...he’s a family guy so I’m not afraid for him.”

Just as at club level though, Giakoumakis will have a fight on his hands to become a regular starter for his country.

At Celtic, his manager Postecoglou has the ‘problem’ of trying to find a way to accommodate the different facets of his attacking arsenal, with a partnership between Giakoumakis and Kyogo being mooted by the big Greek himself.

If he can maintain a regular spot though and show that his goalscoring prowess is transferable to the Champions League next season, then Fyssas believes that can only strengthen his case to become the main man up top for his nation too.

“Yes, because in Greece we have some other good players in his position,” he said.

“We have Vangelis Pavlidis in Holland who is scoring all the time, he is also an improving player and he has big value too.

“We have Anastasios Douvikas, we have Taxiarchis Fountas who also plays in America, but Giorgos has started to show his quality.

“And of course, if he starts to play great games and shows his quality in the Champions League or the Europa League, of course he is going to improve himself and become a very important member of the national team.

“We need these kind of players, we need to show personality. It’s important in the national team that we have players who are important at their clubs, but they need to understand that they need to have success with the national team.

“You have to have that desire to have success with the national team, and then you become a player who doesn’t miss anything.

“It’s important for the players to understand that it’s good to play well for their clubs, but it’s also important to have good performances for the national team, and go and play in the big tournaments like Scotland may do in the World Cup.”

Giakoumakis has been named by Greece manager Gus Poyet for their four Nations League matches in June, starting with a meeting against Northern Ireland in Belfast next Thursday.

Fyssas expects him to make an impact, and show that he has already become a better player for the short time he has spent at Celtic so far.

“He’s an experienced player Giorgos,” he said. “Every year will give him more confidence, and that’s especially true for goalscorers. They feed off the goals.

“It is important for him to rest his body after the national team games, because we now have four national team games.

“Then he will have to focus on his club and his performances. If he does that, I believe he will play even better next season.”

*An Audience with Takis Fyssas takes place at the O2 Academy in Edinburgh on Sunday June 26th. For tickets please visit