Mike Thalassitis' football career before Love Island as former clubs pay tribute

Before he was a Love Island and Celebs Go Dating star, Mike Thalassitis was a semi-professional footballer.

Thalassitis started a burgeoning career on the pitch in League One and also took in international football during a seven year stint before the celebrity lifestyle took over.

He was born in Edmonton, north London and found himself in the Stevenage youth academy aged 17 in 2010.

The striker impressed, scoring an incredible 17 goals in 26 appearances for the under 18s at Boro, and earned himself a two-year deal at the Football League club.

Stevenage’s centre of excellence manager Mark Jones told the club’s official website at the time: “I’m really delighted for Michael, it shows that if a player performs well on a regular basis then the club will notice and are prepared to reward that individual.

Thalassitis in action for Stevenage

“I hope that Michael is just the first of many players that we will help to produce over the coming years.”

Around the same time as earning a professional contract, Thalassitis was called up to the Cyprus under 19 side – having turned heads at a three-day training camp.

He eventually played three times for the side before growing into the under 21s of the national team – where he notched twice in four matches.

Back at Boro he made his debut in 2011 against MK Dons, where he had a great last minute chance to earn a draw.

After the game Stevenage’s skipper Mark Roberts commented: “He’s come from our youth system and it’s early days yet but I’m sure that he’ll get stronger, and he’ll help the first team in future.

Thalassitis almost scored for Stevenage on his professional debut

“He’s shown a great determination, he puts himself about and he looks hungry.

“Last week in training there was an organised game against the youth team and he scored two goals there and could have scored a couple on his debut (on Saturday).

“He’s come to us, he’s made a big impression and he’s got a lot of good attributes.”

But Thalassitis’ career stalled afterwards, eventually making just seven first team appearances for Boro before being sent on loan to non-league outfits Boreham Wood – where he netted on his debut – Hayes and Yeading United, Cambridge United, Bishops’s Stortford and Ebbsfleet United.

On returning to Boro he scored against Premier League side Southampton in a League Cup game but was released at the end of the 2013-14 season.

Thalassitis poses in a Bishop Stortford shirt

Thalassitis was called up to Cyprus’ senior team that summer but was forced to pull out because of a ruptured ACL injury.

Afterwards, he turned out for non-league mainstays Bishops’s Stortford, Chelmsford City, Concord Rangers, St Albans City, Margate, Hemel Hempstead, Welling and finally Margate.

Thalassitis failed to last too long at any of the clubs before he retired in 2017 after he hit the limelight on ITV’s Love Island.

Thalassitis started in the Stevenage academy

Thalassitis admitted he hadn’t told his Margate manager before joining the Love Island cast, and boss Steve Watts said: “I wouldn’t say I’m fuming to be honest. The disappointing factor is he hasn’t let me know.

“It’s not an ideal situation for me. I’d have appreciated at least a call to say he would be going on the show.

“It’s laughable. I didn’t think I’d be sitting in this position with one of my players going onto a TV show and potentially missing preseason.

“Look, he’s a young good-looking lad and he’s going to go in and have a bit of fun I’d imagine. As along as it doesn’t affect anything down in Margate, then I won’t have a problem with it.”

Thalassitis was tragically found dead aged 26 in woodlands near his home in Southend-on-Sea on Friday.

His former clubs paid glowing tributes to the popular journeyman after the devastating news broke.


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