For three years Stamboulidis put textbooks before a professional football career when he took the chance of a spot at Columbia University in New York.

But he still kept up the football skills that were first seen in Melbourne City's 2013 youth title-winning side.

While at university, Stamboulidis played college soccer with Columbia Lions where he won an Ivy League Championship and played in the NCAA Finals for a team which had endured decades without success.

He spent the off-season with the U23 squad of MLS side Colorado Rapids, where he often played two games a week at mile-high altitude which he says helped him  become a fitter, better footballer. 

But with only a few exams to go in his economics degree the 22 year-old has now decided to put football first and pursue a professional contract.

In July this year, he signed with Greek top flight club Aris Thessaloniki FC and speaking to FTBL from his new home, Stamboulidis was excited about the next chapter in his life.

“I believe that this is the first professional move to a top 15 European 1st Division league by any Ivy League University footballer,” he told FTBL.

“Although it was very difficult to manage both my studies and football simultaneously, I always believed that doing both could be possible. 

“It has helped me mature and develop I believe as a world citizen in the most diverse city in the world, New York City, which I will love forever.”