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Striker has fallen out with countless managers, but has scored goals wherever he has played (apart from at Portsmouth)

This article is part of the Guardian's Euro 2012 Experts' Network, a co-operation between 16 of the best media organisations from the countries who have qualified for the finals in Poland and Ukraine. guardian.co.uk is running previews from two countries each day in the run-up to the tournament kicking off on 8 June.

Imagine the scene: a team of Greek female football players are being led in a merry Sirtaki dance by a professional footballer. As a warm-up. In industrial Bochum, Germany. The girls of Hellas Bochum could not believe their luck. The professional footballer in question was Theofanis Gekas, who would go on to become Bundesliga top scorer in that season (2006-07). The episode sums the man up: you never know what to expect.

Hiswhole life has been stop-start. There have been so many goals – – so many goals — but so many fall-outs as well. At Portsmouth, for example, he played only one minute of competitive football during six months and clashed with Paul Hart, who memorably said: "I understand he is frustrated, but a lot of people are frustrated in life."

Gekas has played for nine different clubs in four different countries, retired from international football once and recently became the first Greek to play in the Turkish top division. He is an enigma, but Greece desperately needs him to perform this summer.

Gekas has always scored goals (after dropping greco-roman wrestling as a youngster to focus on football). He started at local club Toxotis but soon moved on to Kallithea and then, midway through the 2004-05 season, Panathinaikos signed him.

But no sooner had he reached the top before the problems started.

Gekas was born in Larissa in 1980 and was a talented Greco-roman wrestler but opted for football in the end. A wise choice, it must be said. He started his career in local club "Toxotis" (Archer) and soon stood out because of his speed, agility and goals.

He stayed there for three years, scoring more than 20 goals and moved to Kallithea after AEL were relegated to the Third Division. He was the second division's top scorer (14 goals in 26 appearances) in his first season, leading his team to the Super League. And moving up a division did not faze him. He continued doing what he does best, scoring goal after goal, and midway through the 2004-05 season, Panathinaikos decided that they had seen enough and signed him.

He scored another eight goals for the Greens and won the Golden Boot as well as the league championship in his first season in the top flight. Not bad. After the following season, however, there were rumours that Panathinaikos were trying to sign Dimitris Salpiggidis from PAOK with Gekas going the other way. Gekas was furious and leaked the news to the press. They found out and there was no way he was going to stay at the club.

He joined Bochum on loan and, remarkably, won the Bundesliga golden boot ahead of players such as Miroslav Klose and Roy Makaay despite playing for a relegation-threatened side. "He has been our life insurance this season," the manager, Marcel Koller, said.

After that, he went to Bayer Leverkusen for €2.8m (£2.2m) and, as usual, he did not stay long. He scored 11 goals during his first season but six months later he was on his way to Portsmouth on loan. He was brought in by Tony Adams but the former Arsenal defender was soon sacked and replaced by Paul Hart, who did not seem to understand what Gekas was all about. The Greek striker can appear lazy at times but has an incredible instinct for goal. In the end he played just one minute for Pompey, coming on for Jermaine Pennant against West Brom.

Naturally, he fell out with Hart, saying: "I don't deserve something like this, such treatment. I think my CV is worthy of respect. I didn't walk away from Leverkusen – a club going for the German Championship — in order to come over here, at a club fighting for survival only, and be sitting in the stands."

Hart's response was as cutting as it was infuriating. "I understand his frustration, but a lot of people are frustrated in life," the manager said.

Another season, another loan and Gekas ended up at Hertha Berlin, scoring on his debut and getting a hat-trick against the champions Wolfsburg in a 5-1 win but despite scoring an impressive six goals in 17 league matches, Hertha went down.

At Eintracht Frankfurt, more goals followed (23 in 48 league matches over two seasons) but towards the end of the 2011-12 season there was a feeling that Gekas time in Germany was coming to an end. And despite finishing fourth in the goalscoring charts while playing for a team that would ultimately get relegated, none of the bigger clubs took a punt on him. They had been scared off

He left Eintracht under a cloud, having not picked up the language during his almost six years in Germany. "I wonder how it is possible for somebody to be leaving in Germany for five years but not be willing to learn the language" said the Eintracht legend Egon Loy. When Gekas was told about the criticism he answered: "I am being paid to score goals, not to talk."

In January 2012 he joined Samsunspor, becoming the first Greek to play for a Turkish top division side. Again, he started well with a goal straight away against Orduspor and a hat-trick against Fenerbahce. "My time in Turkey and Samsunspor is without a doubt the best time I've had in my career," he said. But will he stay there? Of course not. He has already been released.

With Greece, as with his clubs, the goals have just kept coming. At times he has been unstoppable and was Greece's top scorer in the Euro 2008 qualifiers (five goals) and the whole continent's top scorer during the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign.

Then, in September 2010, he announced his retirement from the national team, following in the footsteps of Sotiris Kyrgiakos and Ioannis Amanatidis, quoting "special circumstances within the team". There were speculation that he felt that Kostas Katsouranis had too much control to say in the squad and the decision-making. He apologised a year later but for the fans it felt like he only wanted to put himself into the spotlight again because he had fallen out with Eintracht Frankfurt.

So after a long and winding career, Gekas is still a standard bearer for a nation who has suffered so much in the past years. And he is fully aware what even the slightest success would mean for his countrymen this summer. "I believe that sport is the only thing left for Greece at this moment," he said.

Stavros Drakoularakos and Elias Eftaxias work for sport24.gr

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