ONE OF European footballs most recognisable names, Ibrahim Afellay arrived at the Britannia Stadium in the summer boasting a reputation of being one of the most naturally gifted wingers in the game.
Capped 50 times by Holland, the 29-year-old possesses both lightning pace and incredible technical skills, making his capture something of a coup for Mark Hughes.
A PSV Eindhoven legend, Afellay made 217 appearances for the club during a hugely successful eight-year spell there.
He chipped in with 38 goals – 13 of which came during arguably his most impressive individual campaign to date in 2008/09.
Bizarrely, that season proved to be one of the least successful for PSV – a side whom Afellay had helped claim four Dutch Eredivisie league titles.
Those quartet of domestic crowns were added to as the talented wideman, who was named as Dutch Footballs Talent of the Year in 2007, played a starring role in both 2005 and 2008 as PSV claimed the coveted KNVB Cup as well as the Johan Cruijff Schaal.
His rapid rise to stardom didn’t go unnoticed at international level neither as he established himself as a mainstay in the Dutch squad after making his bow in a Euro 2008 Qualifier against Slovenia.
He continued to make progression at domestic and international level, with his bright showings capturing the attention of several European heavyweights including FC Barcelona and German champions Bayern Munich.
Named as part of the 23-man squad for the 2010 World Cup, and having already experienced major international tournament action at Euro 2008, Afellay helped his country reach the showpiece final in South Africa, but had to watch on from the substitutes bench as Spain claimed a narrow 1-0 extra-time triumph in Johannesburg.
He was able to put his World Cup heartbreak behind him however, and was named as PSV's new club captain ahead of the 2010/11 season, but after refusing to ink a new deal at the Philips Stadion he soon departed the club as Barcelona won the race for his signature in January 2011.
His capture was met with jubilation from Barca supporters, with several thousand turning up for his official unveiling at the Camp Nou.
He took to the pitch for his new club for the first time against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa Del Rey just days after inking a four and a half year deal with the Catalonia-based giants, where he lined-up alongside new Stoke City teammate Bojan.
His first six months in Spain were monumentally successful as he helped Barcelona to La Liga success, as well as starring on the continent – assisting Lionel Messi's crucial first goal in the memorable Champions League 2-0 Semi-Final at the Santiago Bernabau.
He capped off a wonderful maiden season there by adding the Champions League crown to his ever growing list of honours, coming on as a late substitute in the showpiece 3-1 victory over Manchester United at Wembley Stadium.
Further medals were added to his collection during his spell with Barcelona as he helped the side claim the FIFA Club World Cup (2011), UEFA Super Cup (2011), the Copa Del Rey (2012) and the Supercopa de Espana in both 2011 and 2013.
Unfortunately, injuries hampered his spell at the Camp Nou, and as a consequence his absence off the field left his first-team opportunities limited once he did overcome those problems.
There was no shortage of suitors for him however, with a host of clubs around Europe queuing up for his loan signature, but it was Schalke 04 who got their man when they agreed a twelve-month loan deal ahead of the 2012/13 season.
Agonisingly for Afellay, having shone in the Bundesliga during his opening few months there, and having netted against Arsenal in the Champions League, he suffered a groin injury that abruptly ended his time with the club, and prematurely brought an end to his season.
A succession of setbacks denied the talented winger of any meaningful action in 2013/14 too, as he appeared just two times for Barcelona – once in La Liga and once in the Copa Del Rey – but he
did overcome those troublesome problems last term to feature regularly for Olympiacos.
Afellay made 29 appearances for the Greek side, after arriving on a season-long loan deal last summer, netting six times throughout the campaign as he helped the club to silverware in the Superleague Greece and the Greek Football Cup.
Olympiacos were one of the suitors eager to tie him down to a long-term deal this summer after Barcelona confirmed his release, but he has opted to continue his career at the Britannia Stadium and make a major impact in the Barclays Premier League.
Home shirt sponsored by Dawn & Bryan Holmes
Away shirt sponsored by Trentham Bed Warehouse