David Banka’s career took a special turn last year. The 22-year-old winger left the Netherlands somewhat through the back door in the summer of 2020, but eventually ended up with Greek superpower Panathinaikos across Poland and the United States. Banka has already trained with the main squad several times in the first half of the season and hopes to be able to make his debut with the twenty-time Greek champions after the winter as soon as possible.
Written by Chris Meijer
It’s a rather strange feeling for Banca. Almost everywhere he declares himself a Panathinaikos player near his apartment in Athens, doors open for him. Free dinner, taxi drivers who take it for free. “You get extra perks. People are really fond of the club, you can see how they treat you,” says Banka. “On the contrary, it will be less friendly if you meet someone who is a fan of Olympiacos or AEK of Athens. I haven’t really experienced that yet, because I live in the Panathinaikos area. It feels a bit like a holiday every day, I live near the sea.”
Banka owes his former agent that he now plays for Panathinaikos. He threw a ball at Panathinaikos’ scouts, wondering if Banka might not be an interesting player for them. “They were able to showcase everything through WyScout. Apparently that was likable. Yes, I was happy with that,” Banka says with a smile. He signed a two-year contract with Panathinaikos. “I didn’t necessarily make for the second team or the first team. My resume wasn’t enough to match the first, which is totally understandable. I still have to prove myself and I did while preparing.”
Partly for this reason, Banka has already trained several times in the first half of the season with the first team of Panathinaikos – currently ranked fourth in the Greek Super League. “It went great, recently I also joined the first stage. So we are going in the right direction. There are also other Dutch players, good resume. Bart Schenckfeld, Yassin Ayoub and Ramon Pascal Lundqvist have played for PSV Eindhoven, NAC Breda and FC Groningen. In the past. Ayoub is a good guy who helps me at first with everything. When you see where the players played, these are the best tournaments. It’s good to be able to measure yourself against them. You play with very smart players, so it’s different. But I feel my qualities show The better the better you play. So I didn’t have a problem with that, but of course you have to change some gears.”
Banca was scheduled to attend his first minutes on the Greek courts in the second team of Panathinakos, who plays in the second tier. “You can compare it with Ajax and PSV, who also own the U23 team in the second tier. The plan was to play two or three matches there and see if you are better than the rest. This competition only started at the beginning of November.” Meanwhile, Banca is now back in the Netherlands on a team for the Christmas holidays at home, having broken his tibia a month and a half ago and thus likely out of circulation until February.
“We have to see how it goes after that. Several players in my position are likely to leave Panathinaikos next summer. So they are testing if I can replace them. I hope for the best.” If Panka manages to break through to the Panathinakos’ first team, it will be a reward for his perseverance. He had to leave the Vitesse Youth Academy at the age of 14 due to mononucleosis and then stopped playing football for a year and a half. He then fought his way back to professional football via amateurs Späckenberg and Roda 46. However, in the Netherlands, he did not go further than the promising teams of SC Cambuur and RKC Waalwijk.
Banca in the Medes Legnica shirt, where he spent the first half of last season.
“I needed to step outside. I didn’t really penetrate in Holland and then the options aren’t really wide. In Holland I could have played in the U23s at most, because of the lack of minutes. I was the right age to break in somewhere in the Team 1. Look, I had enough chances in Holland. It didn’t work out, partly because of bad luck and partly because I spoiled myself. Not because of lack of quality, but because I made bad choices, “he is guilty. The move to Poland – his mother’s home – was an obvious one. In fact, step into Miedz Legnica, as the second-tier club comes from the same city as his mother. The six months he spent in southwestern Poland turned out to be an extreme period.
“From a mathematical point of view it was beautiful, only in terms of peripheral matters it was terrible. Promises were not kept, and I was treated inappropriately there. That is why I left too, because I felt that at a certain point it was no longer acceptable.” With 12 matches with Miedz Legnica appearing in his name, Panka decided a year ago to look for a new club. He completed in-house training at Korona Kielce (“this was more to watch and keep fit, as they played at the same level and that wasn’t the move I wanted to do”) and received offers from Ekstraklasa, the highest level in Polish football. “I just wanted to make a big move and thought the quickest way to do it was through MLS. Looking back, that was a wrong choice.”
Banca chose to replace Poland with an American adventure at Sporting Kansas City. He remembers the six months he spent in the United States with mixed feelings. “It’s a dream for a lot of people to live in America. Life there is different, very different. People are friendlier and sociable. I had a great time there, you have restaurants and stores that we don’t have here. So it was a nice life experience in that respect. It’s in Kansas City.” City is the national training center, so I met a lot of great athletes there. The national basketball and football teams, for example, would pass by there every now and then,” Banka points out the positive aspects. But in terms of football, he described his time in Sporting Kansas City as “a little disappointing.”
“I was injured in the first period and it all took a long time to arrange my visa, so I didn’t really get off the starting blocks and couldn’t really show myself in the first team. They wanted me to slowly build up to the second tier (which appears in the second division of American football, in the USL Championship, editor) After my hard start, but I saw it differently. I wanted to make preparations, preferably at the start. Near the summer I began to wonder if I’d better make a move, because I’d have nothing left if I finished the season there “. So the options were evaluated, and Panathinaikos was finally offered the opportunity to return to Europe. “I was happy with that, yes.”
“I wanted to go to a club that competes for something, for example European football. They made it clear from the first moment that they are a big club, that they want to stay that way, that they want to shine. So the training is a little bit more intense, and I have to Everything is perfect, compact and good. I like to be in such an environment,” Banca nodded. In that environment, he hopes to make his first-team debut for Panathinaikos after the winter break. “First I have to make sure I can train with the first. But it can go fast if I run for two or three good weeks. I’ve been doing really well, but I can’t say how fast I can debut.”
Zombie specialist. Friendly twitter guru. Internet buff. Organizer. Coffee trailblazer. Lifelong problem solver. Certified travel enthusiast. Alcohol geek.