Greece’s Euro 2004 triumph: ten years on

It has been a decade since Greece sealed an unlikely triumph at Euro 2004, beating Portugal 1-0 in the final. But since then, their national side has not looked close to ever repeating such an unlikely feat. James Pascoe investigates what has happened to some of football’s ultimate one-hit wonders…

Theo Zagorakis lifts the trophy for Greece.  Image Credit:
Captain Theo Zagorakis lifts the trophy for Greece. Image Credit:

Theo Zagorakis – the captain played out of his skin in midfield at the Euros, and was named UEFA’s player of the tournament. An unlikely Ballon D’Or nomination followed for the former Leicester midfielder. He was snapped up by Serie A’s Bologna after Euro 2004, but couldn’t save them from relegation. Zagorakis returned to Greek football with PAOK in 2005, where he finished his career in front of adoring fans. Already 32 when Greece won the championship, he hung up his boots in 2007, and became PAOK’s President, steering the club to safety following a tough financial period. Fail-rating: 1/5

Angelos Charisteas – the big frontman heroically headed the winner against Portugal in the final, and knocked France out of the quarters with a similar effort, but did not build on his success. The then-Werder Bremen striker struggled to match his prolific international form in the club game, and after quiet spells at Ajax, Feyenoord Nurnberg, Arles-Avignon and Schalke, in which he scored a poor total of 48 goals in 9 years, he returned to Greece with Panetolikos. But even then, the goals dried up, and he ended up at current club Sydney FC, via Al-Nassr in the Saudi Premier League. Fail-rating: 5/5

Giorgos Karagounis – Perhaps Greece’s best-known player abroad, Karagounis scored Euro 2004’s first goal with a powerful drive as they beat Spain 1-0. After their victory, he continued at Inter Milan for a further season before returning to Greece with old-club Panathinaikos, via an unsuccessful spell at Portuguese club Benfica. His form returned, earning him a move to the Premier League with Fulham, but he scored just once and just been released by the Cottagers for the second time. Fortunes were better with the national side, though, where he has been captain since 2010’s World Cup and is now their most-capped player ever. He captained the side to the last 16 of this year’s World Cup in Brazil, where they lost on penalties to Costa Rica. He finally retired from international duty after their elimination, winning 139 caps. Fail-rating: 1/5

Giourkas Seitaridis – The right-back was a rock at Euro 2004, and joined Porto afterwards, after being linked with a move to Real Madrid. A year later he moved to Dinamo Moscow, becoming the then-most expensive Greek player of all time and Russia’s record transfer at €10 million. But the cold Russian weather proved a step too far for him – he made just eight appearances before joining Atletico Madrid. Poor form saw him return to Panathinaikos 2009, and he was released in 2013. Seitaridis’ fortunes with Greece changed as well, and he has not played since for them since the 2010 World Cup. Fail-rating: 5/5

Traianos Dellas – The centre-back is noted for scoring a silver-goal winner against Czech Republic in the semis –the only silver-goal ever to be scored, before extra-time rules changed back to the classic format. Dellas became a consistent performer for Roma, but his career was blighted by hernia and back problems. He returned to Greece with AEK Athens, and was selected by Greece to defend their title at Euro 2008, but their disastrous tournament yielded no further heroics. Dellas retired from football in 2012. Fail-rating: 3/5

Stelios Giannakopolous – Former Bolton player and commentator’s favourite Stelios is remembered for his notoriously long and hard-to-pronounce surname, but he was once a star-player for Wanderers, scoring twelve goals in 2005-06. After a poor spell at Hull where he played just twice, he moved to Greek-side Larissa in 2009. Internationally, he has fared better, with Greece winning all but one of the games he has scored in for the national side. Fail-rating: 2/5

One thought on “Greece’s Euro 2004 triumph: ten years on

  1. Great article. Just a correction- Charisteas’ current club is Sydney Olympic (NSW State league) and not Sydney FC (national A-League).

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