The Greece national team have gained a reputation for thriving in adversity at UEFA EURO 2012, but on close expectation, battling against the odds has become second nature for so many of their players.
Take, for instance, goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis. He was Fernando Santos's No1 choice in the UEFA EURO 2012 qualifiers, but a knee ligament injury in September 2011 sidelined him for six months. He spent the whole winter going back and forth to a rehabilitation centre in Antwerp, and then went through intensive training, all in order to win the race against time and be ready for the tournament.
The same goes for Sotiris Ninis. He scored a magnificent goal in an away qualifier against Israel last September but suffered a knee ligament injury a few minutes later and had to undergo surgery. He also spent months and months working hard to return to action, hoping to recover in time.
Giorgos Tzavellas spent the season between Germany's Zweiteliga (Eintracht Frankfurt) and France's Ligue 2 (AS Monaco FC). He never complained, worked hard and finally got the nod from Santos, despite playing for second-tier teams.
Captain Giorgos Karagounis came to UEFA EURO 2012 fresh from perhaps the most dispiriting season at club level. This man who cannot live without playing saw his role with Panathinaikos FC reduced dramatically to just 730 minutes in the Greek Super League, with 21 substitute appearances in 25 matches.
Vassilis Torossidis suffered a rib injury in October (in the qualifying decider against Croatia), broke his hand in the Greek Cup semi-final against OFI Crete and then sustained a knee injury a month ago, in the friendly against Slovenia. However, he managed to overcome everything that was thrown at him, and won a domestic double as Olympiacos FC captain before heading out to Poland.
So many of Greece's players' recent years have been all about struggle and hard-won successes. It has become second nature. These 23 lads (not forgetting the injured Avraam Papadopoulos, who is facing an uphill battle of his own) have known nothing but adversity. The motto on their team bus reads "Born Fighters". It sums them up well.
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