Growing up in Canberra, Nikolai played his junior football with Tuggerong United and Woden Valley before starting his senior career at Manly United in the NSW Premier League.
Signing several short-term contracts with Sydney FC, the centre back burst onto the Hyundai A-League scene with a series of powerful performances. The lack of a long-term contract saw the talented youngster move to Perth Glory in 2007/08 where he made a clean-sweep of the club’s awards winning Player of the Year, Players’ Player and Young Player of the Year as well as making his Socceroos debut against Singapore.
Nikolai confirmed his place as one of the league’s best defenders when he transferred to Newcastle Jets for three seasons before being announced as a Wanderers Foundation Player on 30 June 2012.
With a heritage of Mauritius and German-Polish, Nikolai made his debut in the Wanderers first ever match and scored his first goal against Wellington Phoenix in Round 16 of the 2012/13 season. He rounded off his first season with the club by winning Wanderers Members’ Player of the Year and his second selection in the PFA Team of the Year following his inclusion in 2009/10.
Nikolai spent a lot of the 2013/14 season as the on-field captain and took the honour permanently in 2014/15. He was awarded for great form in the AFC Champions League with selection at centre back for the ACL 2015 Team of the Year as well as the NRMA Insurance Hyundai A-League 2014/15 Player of the Year.
It was announced on 18 October 2016 that Nikolai had departed the Wanderers to join a club in the United Arab Emirates.