The summer of 2004 saw a team with wizened veterans and fresh-faced youngsters downing European football superpowers with aplomb, claim the continental championship. Greece shocked the footballing world with its surge to the title. Ten years on, the ‘Pirate Ship’, a nickname that the side earned during that incredible summer in Portugal, will be looking to create another such splash, albeit in the biggest footballing event in the world.
The Greece of today will have only two representatives from the class of 2004, taking out the promise of a better future on to the field in Brazil.
Fittingly, Giorgios Karagounis, the 37-year-old skipper of the side and Greece’s most capped player will be leading the Greek charge. With 132 caps, he is the most experienced of the lot, leading a well-rounded young side which has often lost out due to its lack of big-game experience.
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Karagounis, famously remembered for the low, fizzing drive from 25-yards against Portugal in the first round of Euro 2004, has been a part of some of Greek football’s finest moments. It was the midfielder’s goal that took his side past Russia and into the quarter-finals in Euro 2012. Karagounis also played a sterling role in driving Greece’s midfield in 2010.
Karagounis has reiterated that in Brazil, his team’s mission is to put a smile on the faces of people back home. Karagounis has said that he cannot bear to see his one-time teammates struggle to put food on the table in an increasingly tumultous Greece.