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Fernando Santos has been appointed Greece coach after the departure of Otto Rehhagel.
Following Greece's FIFA World Cup group stage exit, the 71-year-old Rehhagel brought an end to a reign that began in 2001 and encompassed the UEFA EURO 2004 triumph in Portugal. Santos, 55, has signed a two-year contract, six weeks after stepping down from the PAOK FC helm following a season in which they finished second.
"I'm very honoured to coach the Greek national team and couldn't say no," said Santos. "
Otto Rehhagel and his players are part of Greece's golden history, but one era has closed and another is starting now. My way of working is different to my predecessor's, but the goal is the same: to win. It's a big challenge, but we will give 200% to achieve our goals."
A defender with SL Benfica, CS Marítimo, and GD Estoril Praia, Santos began his coaching career with Estoril in 1987, having worked outside football for some of the 12 years since his playing retirement. He took the club up two divisions to Portugal's top flight and went on to lead CF Estrela da Amadora and then FC Porto, winning the 1998/99 title in his first season in charge of the latter and reaching the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.
In 2001, Santos moved to Greece with AEK Athens FC and was at the Panathinaikos FC helm the following year. He was back in Lisbon to coach Sporting Clube de Portugal in 2003/04 before returning to AEK and guiding a young team to third place. Santos coached Benfica in 2006/07 before commencing a three-year tenure with PAOK.
"Most of the players already know me," continued Santos. "I've been in Greece for almost eight years now and I understand the Greek language and feel at ease with the Greek culture. We will represent Greek football, so we must play with passion, with an open mind and a plan; I know that we will be successful."
Greece face Serbia in a friendly in Belgrade on 11 August and kick off UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group F on 3 September at home to Georgia. They also meet Croatia, Israel, Latvia and Malta in their bid to qualify for a third consecutive final tournament. "Our goal is to be present in every major competition," concluded Santos. "It's not a goal to be frustrated about, but an extra motivation to always achieve more."
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