José Holebas

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José Holebas
Holebas with Greece in 2013.
Personal information
Full name José Lloyd Holebas
Date of birth (1984-06-27) 27 June 1984 (age 36)[1]
Place of birth Aschaffenburg, West Germany
Height 1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)[1]
Playing position Left back / Left midfielder
Club information
Current team
Number 25
Youth career
FC Südring
FC Kleinwallstadt
TSV Teutonia Obernau
2002–2005 SV 1910 Aschaffenburg-Damm
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2005–2006 Viktoria Kahl 33 (15)
2006–2009 1860 München II 47 (12)
2007–2010 1860 München 74 (7)
2010–2014 Olympiacos 94 (9)
2014–2015 Roma 24 (1)
2015– Watford 11 (1)
National team
2011– Greece 34 (1)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 20 April 2016.
† Appearances (goals)

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 30 March 2016

José LIoyd Holebas (Greek: Χοσέ Λόυντ Χολέμπας; born 27 June 1984), also sometimes known as Iosif Cholevas (Greek: Ιωσήφ Χολέβας), is a Greek professional footballer who plays for Watford and the Greek national team.

Personal life

Holebas was born in Aschaffenburg, Bavaria, West Germany. His father, Achilles, is a Greek from Trikala, and his mother, Lowis, is of Uruguayan descent. He has a brother, Björn, and a sister, Semira. At the age of 18, he became father to a daughter named Tanisha; Tanisha's mother is Vita.[2] In 2011, Holebas married a German woman, Diana Jäger, who also hails from Aschaffenburg.[3]

Club career

Early years

Holebas' first club was local youth team Südring, which he joined in 1992 when he was eight. He played at non-professional youth football teams in German football which included playing for Südring, FC Kleinwallstadt and TSV Teutonia Obernau until 2001, when his girlfriend got pregnant and José, at age 18, decided to temporarily give up football. He had to work the double shift as a warehouse assistant in order to financially support his family’s rising expenses. A year later, in 2002 and with the guidance of his Uruguayan uncle Alfonso, whom Holebas described as his "second father" and "who gave me the kicks I needed to get my life back on track," helped him return into playing football. When he returned, he played for local youth side Aschaffenburg-Damm from 2002 to 2005.[4]

Viktoria Kahl

In 2005, Holebas got his first break into senior football when he joined German sixth-tier National League club FC Viktoria Kahl. He enjoyed a great personal 2005–06 season at the club, scoring 15 goals in 33 appearances, playing as a striker. His impressive year with Viktoria caught interest from 1860 München scouts, who eventually became aware of his talent, goal-scoring abilities and hard work; Holebas ultimately joined the team in the summer of 2006.[5]

1860 München

File:Jose Holebas 1860 2009.JPG
Holebas training with 1860 München in 2009

In his first season in Munich, he began with 1860's second team, where, at 22 years of age, was considered "too old" by the club's youth academy coach, Ernst Tanner. Holebas officially made his debut for 1860 München II on 5 August 2006 in a Regionalliga Süd game against 1899 Hoffenheim. A year later, Holebas signed his first ever professional contract with the first team in the summer of 2007. He officially made his professional debut for the Munich Lions on 21 September 2007 at 23 years of age against St. Pauli in a 2. Bundesliga game.

Holebas accumulated three years of professional football experience in the German second tier with 1860 München, with the side finishing 11th in 2007–08, 12th in 2008–09 (while also dropping back to 1860 München II for a number of games) and eighth in 2009–10. It was the summer of 2009 when his new coach Ewald Lienen, a radical-thinking individual even from his early days as a footballer,[citation needed] advised the 25-year-old Holebas to stay back and play as a defending left-winger.

Holebas finished his five-season stint in Germany with both Viktoria Kahl and 1860 München, scoring a total of 34 goals in 154 games in all competitions. Despite initially disliking the club as a child due to being a childhood fan of 1860's fierce cross-city Munich rivals Bayern, Holebas stated his changed opinion of the club that gave him his breakthrough in professional football, stating, "I'll forever be grateful to 1860 München."[6]



One year after he was advised to change positions, Ewald Lienen left 1860 München to become the coach of Superleague Greece giants Olympiacos. The club was in need of a left-back that could defend but also had the abilities and the mind frame to assist the attack from the left flank, and Lienen immediately signed Holebas for a transfer fee of €500,000, presenting him with the chance to play at a top club with the potential of Champions League and Europa League football. Once he joined and was presented to the media in Piraeus, Holebas stated in an interview, "My father is Greek, but this is only the second time that I have come back to the country. When I was first here, I was very young and do not remember many things, but I must say that I am very happy to play in my ancestral country."

On 15 July 2010, Holebas officially made his debut for Olympiacos in a 5–0 away victory over Albanian club Besa Kavajë in the first leg of a Europa League second qualifying round tie. On 5 August, Olympiacos were knocked out of the Europa League (2–2) on away goals by Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv, which prompted Olympiacos to dismiss Lienen as the side's head coach. Holebas would come under heavy criticism during his first months at the club, as he was struggling to find form and having to carry the burden of being the signing of a failed coach. Four months, however, he began making a positive impression under Lieden's replacement, Ernesto Valverde, who began to use him both as a defending and an attacking left winger, depending on the strength of Olympiacos' opponent. Holebas scored his first ever goal for the club on 20 March 2011 in a 6–0 home league win over AEK Athens, which sealed the club's 38th Greek championship title. Holebas finished his 2010–11 season scoring one goal in 31 games in all competitions.


On 19 October 2011, Holebas scored his first goal of the season by opening the scoring against German giants Borussia Dortmund in a 3–1 home victory on matchday 3 of the Champions League group stage with a strong header. On 3 March 2012, Holebas scored his second goal of the season, a fantastic one, to open the scoring in a 2–0 away league victory over OFI Crete—he received a pass on the right hand side, turned on to his left foot and hit an absolute rocket of a long-range shot way outside the box and on a tough angle, placing the ball into the top left corner of the net. His goal against the Cretans won him the Superleague goal of the week award.[7]

On 11 March, the next week, Holebas scored Olympiacos' second goal from the penalty spot in a 3–0 league away win over Aris. Olympiacos went on to retain their league title for their second season in a row by winning their 39th Greek Championship title. On 28 April, Holebas started the Greek Cup Final against Atromitos, where he missed a penalty kick in the first-half. Nonetheless, Olympiacos went on to win the Cup 2–1 after extra time through goals from Walter Iglesias and Rafik Djebbour at the Athens Olympic Stadium. Holebas the 2011–12 season scoring three goals in 35 games in all competitions, winning a league and cup double.


On 23 September 2012, Holebas netted his first goal of the season by scoring Olympiacos' second goal in a 4–1 home league win over Panthrakikos. On 7 October, Holebas scored his second goal of the season by netting Olympiacos' first and only goal of the game in a 1–0 league home win over Asteras Tripoli. The next week, Holebas scored his third goal of the season by scoring the second goal in a 4–0 home league win over Skoda Xanthi. On 29 October, Holebas scored his fourth goal of the season by scoring Olympiacos' second goal and second equalizer in a 2–2 away league draw against Aris. Olympiacos went on to retain their league title for a third season in a row, their 40th Greek Championship title.

On 11 May 2013, Holebas started and played in the Greek Cup final, where Olympiacos went on to retain the cup for a second season in a row with a 3–1 victory after extra time over Asteras Tripoli with goals from David Fuster, Rafik Djebbour and Djamel Abdoun at the Athens Olympic Stadium.[8] Holebas the 2012–13 season scoring four goals in 40 games in all competitions, winning another league and cup double.


In the summer of 2013, there were rumours that Holebas would join Turkish club Beşiktaş, according to the Turkish media, which reported that he had agreed to sign a deal with the Black Eagles. The Turks reportedly offered the 29-year-old defender a three-year contract, with an annual salary reaching €750,000, a significant pay rise than what he was being paid by Olympiacos. The deal, however, was not completed, and Holebas decided to stay in Piraeus, subsequently signing a contract extension lasting until 2017.[9]

On 27 October 2013, Holebas scored his first goal of the season by netting Olympiacos's third goal with a wonderful free-kick in a 5–1 league home win over OFI Crete. On 18 January 2014, he scored his second goal of the season by netting their second goal in a 2–0 home league win over Levadiakos. Olympiacos went on to retain their league title again for a fourth season in a row by winning their 41st Greek championship. He finished the 2013–14 campaign scoring two goals in 29 games in all competitions and winning another League title.

Holebas finished his very successful four-season stint with Olympiacos by netting ten toal goals in 135 games in all competitions, and also by winning the Superleague Greece four times in 2010–11, 2011–12, 2012–13 and 2013–14; the Greek Cup twice and in a row in 2011–12 and 2012–13; and participating in both the Champions League and Europa League.[10]



On 30 August 2014, Holebas joined Italian Serie A club Roma for a €1 million transfer fee from Olympiacos, plus €500,000 in bonuses. He signed a three-year contract.[11] After being presented to the media in Rome by Roma CEO Italo Zanzi, Holebas stated why he joined Roma in a press conference: "I had other offers, but I decided on Roma because they are a great club at a European level. Was I expecting this move? I had discussions, it was a difficult situation because I was at the World Cup, but I am happy to be here because this is a great club. My preferred position? Certainly I will do my best. I am a left-back, playing in an attacking manner. I can also play at centre-back, but the Coach will decide."[12]

On 24 September 2014, Holebas made his debut for the club, by playing the full 90 minutes in a 2–1 away league victory over Parma in their fourth match of the 2014–15 Serie A.[13] On 30 November, Holebas scored his first goal for Roma in an important 4–2 home victory over Internazionale in their 13th match of Serie A to stay in touch with the top of the table. He finished his 2014–15 season scoring one goal in 34 games in all competitions, whilst keeping veteran English international left back Ashley Cole out of the team for much of the season. For the second season in a row, Roma finished runners-up to league champions Juventus, marking for the first time since the 2009–10 season that Holebas did not win any piece of silverware.

Transfer speculation and controversy

On 25 June 2015, it was reported that recently-promoted English Premier League club Watford were close to securing a deal for Holebas after the side confirmed interest by contacting the Italians and admiring the player's profile; they allegedly offered between €2–3 million for his services. At that point, There was a summit at Trigoria between Roma Sporting Director Walter Sabatini and the entire staff, including head coach Rudi García and Simone Beccaccioli. Talks between the two clubs continued, where it was growing likely that the deal would officially be announced the following Monday. Fabio Parisi, Holebas' agent, spoke to VoceGiallorossa about the situation: "Nothing is done. There is confirmation of Watford’s interest, but there is absolutely nothing done. For now, the player's will is to have a holiday."[14] On 2 July, Watford officially announced the signing of the Greek international from Roma, which Holebas denied when he found out 24 hours later after the announcement, claiming he did not know anything about it. He later stated in an interview, "They arranged my transfer without asking me. I haven't signed anything yet, I have to see the contract first. I don't know why this has happened, I know that both Roma and Watford announced my transfer, but they'd have to talk to my representatives first. I never said I wanted to leave Roma. I'll sign after first agreeing to the terms of the contract. I can't understand why this has happened, I came back from my holiday in Dubai and everyone started telling me my transfer had been officially announced. I'm in Germany right now, how could I sign a contract?"[15]

Following that claim, and after days of confusion and wondering if Holebas was going to either continue his contact and talks with Watford and eventually sign for them, or if he was going to turn his back on Watford's offer to stay committed to the three-year deal he signed at Roma a year earlier, it was reported that on 5 July that Holebas had decided to revive his contact and discussions with Watford.[16]



Watford eventually officially completed the signing of Holebas for an initial fee of £1.8 million, which Roma confirmed. Roma also announced on their official website that the move could also include up to £350,000 worth of add-ons.[17] Holebas explained how he felt on his move to Watford: "I'm happy to be here and we are working hard. That is what we have to do in pre-season. It is a tough league. I've played twice against Arsenal and also against Manchester United in the Champions League, so big teams in England, and it was really tough. But I feel as though I understand better how they play now. I have some experience and there are some young guys here, so I think I can help them with my experience. The first thing we need to do is stay in the Premier League next season. That is the main thing. Everybody knows we are a little bit of a smaller club so we have to work on our fighting spirit and team spirit and the rest will come later."[18] On 8 August, Holebas made his debut for the club, playing the full 90 minutes in a 2–2 away league draw against Everton in their opening 2015–16 Premier League match and Watford's return to the top division. He picked up a yellow card in the match.

Since his appearance in a 2–0 away league defeat against Manchester City on 29 August, Holebas has not made an appearance in any competition for the Hornets. Playing just three games in all competitions in the first two-and-a-half months of the season, he has struggled to secure a first place spot in the Watford side, sitting third in the pecking order behind Nathan Aké and Ikechi Anya for the starting left-back spot. As a result, rumours circulated that he could be off-loaded in the January transfer window.[19][20] Hornets manager Quique Sánchez Flores insisted that Holebas needs to lift his game and form to return to the team, and that his previous club experience would guarantee him a spot in the side. Sánchez Flores went on to say, "Holebas is waiting, fighting and trying to play in the first eleven. In the way I like, players are fighting to come back into the first eleven. Holebas understands because he is an experienced player. Maybe when he arrived, he thought it would be easy to play at Watford, but the level of the team is high, there is competition for positions. Holebas is fighting with [Ikechi] Anya and with [Nathan] Aké. Competition is very high in this position."[21]

After three months of not playing, Holebas returned to the side on 26 December to play the full 90 minutes in a respectable 2–2 league draw away in London against reigning league champions Chelsea, picking up a yellow card.[22] On 2 January 2016, he started for the suspended Nathan Aké, playing the full 90 minutes in a 1–2 league home defeat against Manchester City.[23] On 7 January, reports surfaced that French Ligue 1 giants Marseille were keen on signing Holebas, and that their head coach Míchel was seeking to rekindle the relationship that he and Holebas formed whilst working together for a season-and-a-half at Olympiacos. [24] On 1 March 2016, Holebas has appeared to vent his frustration at being left unused on the bench by Quique Sanchez Flores for a third successive league match with an angry outburst on social media. Although Holebas won the club’s man of the match award against Leeds United but was relegated to the bench for yesterday’s game against Bournemouth as Sanchez Flores restored Nathan Ake to the league XI. Sanchez Flores admitted in the build-up to the Bournemouth game that given the form of Holebas, it was “difficult to choose” his left-back but he again opted for Ake. [25]

On 24 March 2016, according to radio station Radyospor Watford left-back has been offered to Turkish giants Fenerbahçe. Fenerbahce are yet to make a decision over whether to make a bid for the Greek international but are reported to be considering Holebas as a potential replacement for Caner Erkin if he leaves at the end of the season. [26] On 9 April 2016, he scored his first goal with the club by head just before the break, to end a poor recent run of four league defeats in a row in a 1-1 home draw against Everton .[27]

International career

Holebas (second from bottom left) lining up for Greece against Austria in August 2013

Holebas being born in West Germany was eligible to represent Germany and through his Greek-Uruguayan heritage was also eligible to represent Greece or Uruguay in International football. He never appeared for any of the countries at youth level. In an interview about his International ambitions with a Greek reporter, he stated, "My dream growing up was to play for Germany, but my father is Greek so I would be happy to play for Greece." In November 2011, he received Greek citizenship as "Iosef Cholevas," [28] and on the 11th of the same month, he officially made his debut for Greece in a friendly match against Russia, which ended in a 1–1 draw at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus.

File:20130814 AT-GR Jose Holebas 2825.jpg
Holebas playing for Greece against Austria in 2013

In 2012, Holebas was part of Greece's 23-man squad for the UEFA Euro 2012 finals held in Poland and Ukraine. He started the first two group games against Poland in a 1–1 draw and against Czech Republic in a 2–1 loss and was dropped for the third match due to heavy criticism that his attacking tendency was becoming hazardous to the usually-solid defensive tactics of Greece. Nonetheless, he did come on for the final 30 minutes of the match, playing admirably and assisting Greece in holding on to the 1–0 win against Russia, which took them to the quarter-finals. Here, however, Greece fell to Germany by a score of 4–2, a defeat in which Holebas picked up a suspension for receiving another yellow card after his previous booking in the game against Russia.[29]

Holebas scored his first international goal for Greece in a 1–0 victory against the Republic of Ireland in November 2012, a friendly match played at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Holebas' impressive 2013–14 season with Olympiacos prompted his nomination from Greek manager Fernando Santos as a part of the final 23-man squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. He played in all of Greece's matches, which included a 3–0 loss to Colombia, a 0–0 draw with Japan, a 2–1 victory over Ivory Coast in the Group Stages, and the 1–1 (5–3 penalty shoot-out) defeat to Costa Rica in the last 16, during which he converted his penalty kick.[30]

On 27 March 2015, two days before the crucial Euro 2016 qualifier for Greece against Hungary, media reports claimed that Holebas had trained normally with his Roma squad after departing from Austria on Tuesday. "On Monday José underwent a radiographic examination of which it was diagnosed that he was suffering from a left rib case injury. The player trained in Austria under an individual program but was not fit to be available to play against Hungary," the Hellenic Football Federation (HFF) said in an announcement. The HFF added that reports out of Italy cited by the Greek media "lead to completely erroneous conclusions in regards to the willingness of the player to contribute to his commitments with the national team any further."[31] This was probably the cause for the non-call-up of the player for the national team, creating tension with new Greek manager and former national team teammate Georgios Karagounis.[32] On 4 September 2015, Holebas returned to the national side after being picked by caretaker coach Kostas Tsanas, where he appeared for Greece for the first time in 12 months in Greece's 0–1 home defeat against Finland in a Euro 2016 qualifier in Piraeus. The defeat officially ended Greece's hopes of qualification to the final tournament in France in a poor overall qualifying campaign for Greece.[33]

Career statistics

As of match played 20 April 2016[34][35][36]
Club Season League Cup League Cup Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
1860 München II 2006–07 Regionalliga Süd 32 12 0 0 0 0 0 0 32 12
2007–08 Regionalliga Süd 11 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 11 0
Total 43 12 0 0 0 0 0 0 43 12
1860 München 2007–08 2. Bundesliga 19 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 19 2
2008–09 2. Bundesliga 24 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 24 1
2009–10 2. Bundesliga 31 4 3 0 0 0 0 0 34 4
Total 74 7 3 0 0 0 0 0 77 7
Olympiacos 2010–11 Superleague Greece 24 1 3 0 0 0 4 0 31 1
2011–12 Superleague Greece 23 2 3 0 0 0 9 1 32 3
2012–13 Superleague Greece 28 4 5 0 0 0 7 0 40 4
2013–14 Superleague Greece 19 2 3 0 0 0 7 0 29 2
Total 94 9 14 0 0 0 27 1 104 8
AS Roma 2014–15 Serie A 24 1 1 0 0 0 9 0 34 1
Watford 2015–16 Premier League 11 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 13 1
Career total 246 30 20 0 0 0 36 1 302 31




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  2. "Holebas: Löwen sind die Chance meines Lebens!" [Holebas: "Lions are the chance of my life"] (in German). Bild. 16 January 2008. Retrieved 7 January 2015.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Erst der Titel in Griechenland, dann die Hochzeit in der Heimat" [First the championship in Greece, then the wedding at home] (in German). 24 May 2011. Retrieved 7 January 2015.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  7. OΦΗ-Ολυμπιακός 0–2
  8. Το κύπελλο στον Ολυμπιακό, οργή στον Αστέρα για τη διαιτησία
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External links