NEW YORK – Former Columbia University midfielder Haris Stamboulidis will forego his senior season for the men’s soccer team after signing with Aris Thessaloniki F.C. of Super League Greece.

The Melbourne, Australia native, who also has Greek citizenship, will continue to pursue his degree in Economics from Columbia, as he was set to graduate at the end of the fall semester.

“It is bittersweet that I will not spend another year with my teammates from Columbia, however I was very grateful for their support and understanding of this choice I have made,” Stamboulidis said. “The possibility and transition of the events that have occurred would not have been possible without our head coach Kevin Anderson, so I will always be very grateful and appreciative of this.”

During his three-year career with the Lions, the defensive-central midfielder played in 40 matches, earning the start in 24 of those contests. Stamboulidis came off the bench in the second extratime period during the NCAA Division I Tournament at William & Mary and was part of the set piece that resulted in Kynan Rocks’ game-winner. That gave Columbia its first NCAA Tournament win in 27 years. He started four matches in 2016, when Columbia hoisted the Ivy League trophy for the first time since 1993.

“Joining Greek giants Aris F.C. has been an honor and thrilling entrance to professional football, given the club’s historic past, its untouchable fans, and world class coaching staff and teammates,” Stamboulidis said.

“I fully support Haris in this decision,” Anderson said. “When we bring players and families to Columbia, we explain that our vision is to have our players develop and grow over their time with us. That growth is in life, in school and in sport. Only if we get all of them right, do you get the opportunity that Hairs has been presented with. He will graduate having been recognized as a Dean List student at Columbia on multiple occasions and pursue his life’s dream of playing professional football in Europe.”

After taking second place in the Greek second division a season ago, Aris was promoted from the Football League in Greece to the Super League, which is the top division in the country. The season begins at the end of August and runs through May for the 16 teams in the league, with 30 matches on the schedule. Thus far, Aris has played four friendly matches in Holland to start the year.

The home matches for Aris are played at Kleanthis Vikelidis Stadium in Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece, which is located on the Thermaic Gulf in the northwest corner of the Aegean Sea. Home fans at Kleanthis Vikelidis are considered some of the most passionate in Greece, shown by their boisterous presence at many UEFA Cup matches. Paco Herrera is in his first season as manager of the squad after a 26-year career spent coaching numerous clubs in Spain.

“I’m so happy and proud of Haris and excited for his family and loved ones,” Anderson said. “We all recognize that being a football/soccer player at the highest of levels means that everyone along the way invested in this and at times even sacrificed. A big congrats to the entire Stamboulidis Family and know that you will always have a home in NYC.”