Best EURO performance: winners 2004
Coach: Fernando Santos
Leading scorer: all-time – Nikos Anastopoulos (29); current – Angelos Charisteas (25)
Most appearances: all-time – Thedoros Zagorakis (120); current – Giorgos Karagounis (117)
Association formed: 1926
Nickname: Galanolefki (Sky blue and whites)
Fernando Santos's team were unbeaten in qualifying, owing much of their success to narrow wins. Those were a familiar feature during their stunning UEFA EURO 2004 success, and an emphasis on team spirit to compensate for the shortage of star names remains an overriding characteristic. Before Portugal, Greece had participated in two major tournaments; this marks their third consecutive UEFA European Championship appearance and they also contested the 2010 FIFA World Cup, exiting after the group stage. It was the same story at UEFA EURO 2008, where they failed to pick up a point.
UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying
Group F: winners
Leading scorer: Giannis Fetfatzidis, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Vassilis Torossidis (2)
Ever-presents: Giorgos Karagounis, Dimitris Salpingidis (10)
The 2-1 success in Georgia that confirmed qualification was Greece's 100th UEFA European Championship qualifier.
Santos succeeded the long-serving Otto Rehhagel in August 2010 and did not taste defeat in his first 17 matches until a 3-1 reverse against Romania in a friendly in Austria on 15 November. That ended a run of ten victories and seven draws since the Portuguese coach had taken over, the longest unbeaten streak in Greece's history.
With the 14 qualifying goals shared among 11 players – including Kyriakos Papadopoulos, who was just 19 when he scored against Malta on his debut in June 2011 – Greece's success was a real team effort.
Captain Giorgos Karagounis was the only player to start all ten qualifiers, although striker Dimitris Salpingidis also appeared in every game; Santos used 32 players overall, giving a first cap to nine of them. "This is dedicated to all Greeks," said Santos. "We gave them a reason to smile in these tough times. Our team is constantly maturing and we set ourselves no limits. We always keep our sights high."
Greece suffered a long wait to follow up on their first finals appearance in 1980 – where they collected one point from their three games – but it proved sensationally worthwhile as Rehhagel's men confounded all expectations to lift the trophy in Portugal in 2004.
The German coach masterminded an effective game plan, his side catching the hosts cold in the opening game with a 2-1 victory. France and the Czech Republic were beaten in the quarter and semi-finals respectively, both succumbing 1-0, before a second defeat of Portugal – thanks to Angelos Charisteas' typical header early in the second period – provided a fairy-tale ending.
All four of Greece's EURO finals victories – from 12 matches – came in 2004, and all by a single goal. While they lost their three group games in Austria and Switzerland in 2008, it could scarcely take the shine off a momentous achievement.
UEFA EURO 2012 Group A fixtures
Friday 8 June: Poland v Greece, 18.00CET, Warsaw
Tuesday 12 June: Greece v Czech Republic, 18.00CET, Wroclaw
Saturday 16 June: Greece v Russia, 20.45CET, Warsaw
Team EURO records
Overall: P112 W55 D22 L35 F161 A122
Final tournament: P12 W4 D2 L6 F9 A13
Qualifying: P100 W51 D20 L29 F152 A109
Click here for extensive list of records
Last updated 4 June 2012
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