A SUBBUTEO fan from York has taken his love for the game to the next level by painstakingly creating identical figures of the world’s top footballers.

Stathis Tsolis, of Blatchford Court, Clifton, currently has four teams of his own, but his skill in painting the models of top stars has attracted interest from other Subbuteo fanatics.

Recently he was commissioned to make replicas of Champions League stars including Gareth Bale, Robin Van Persie and Frank Lampard.

Stathis has made plenty of teams for Subbuteo fans but his personal collection includes the 1998 Holland squad, the Euro 2004 winning Greece team, and a special edition Brazil line-up from 1982.

Although they are not as famous as the other world-beating teams, the 2006 Trinidad and Tobago squad is also one of his favourite line-ups.

This is a personal touch to his collection because of his own link to the Caribbean islands where his wife, Korane, is from.

The Subbuteo enthusiast works at the National Railway Museum. He plays for Yorkshire Phoenix TFC in his spare time, and runs his website mysubbuteo.com where players can purchase teams of hand-painted stars.

However, despite his skill in designing the figures Stathis insists he “is not a good player” when it comes to competitions in which he plays four times a year.

Although he plays friendly matches as well, he would like to compete more often and is hoping at some point to set up a league in York, as the current Yorkshire League is based in Leeds.

Stathis does not follow football too seriously. In the Premiership he leans towards Manchester City, but it is PAOK Thessaloniki in Greece where his real support lies.

The 33-year-old first began playing Subbeteo as a child when his brother, George, bought him a Spurs team.

He started playing in his neighbourhood for about three years, but did not rediscover the game again until 2007 when he moved to London and joined a league there, before moving to York in 2008.