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Greece leave happy memories

Published: Saturday 23 June 2012, 11.35CET
Greece bowed out of UEFA EURO 2012 on Friday, bringing to an end a tournament that was packed full of emotion and memorable moments, says Vassiliki Papantonopoulou.
by Vassiliki Papantonopoulou
from Gdansk


Published: Saturday 23 June 2012, 11.35CET

Greece leave happy memories

Greece bowed out of UEFA EURO 2012 on Friday, bringing to an end a tournament that was packed full of emotion and memorable moments, says Vassiliki Papantonopoulou.

It's been a month. From Athens to Kitzbuhel to Poland. A journey that started on 22 May in Greece's headquarters at Agios Kosmas and ended on 22 June at Arena Gdansk. So many images, so many emotions, so much to remember.

I will never forget captain Giorgos Karagounis, inconsolable when he realised that he would not play against Germany, walking up and down on the sidelines while his team-mates were warming up ahead of their quarter-final.

©AFP/Getty Images

Greece's campaign came to an end in Gdansk on Friday

Or Michalis Sifakis's proud smile on camera when reminiscing on the months spent to recover from a knee surgery and a battle won. Or Giorgos Tzavellas, always in a good mood, cracking jokes in training. Or the realisation that Dimitris Salpingidis smiles more and is more outgoing than his press photos over all these years suggest.

Or Kyriakos Papadopoulos, a larger-than-life 20-year-old, praising Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder, wanting to know about the first half of Denmark against the Netherlands because he had missed it, juggling a ball and teasing Salpingidis – all at the same time.

Or Vassilis Torossidis, always looking down at the carpet when interviewed. Or Kostas Katsouranis, relentlessly teasing Kostas Mitroglou during the team photo shoot, and the latter trying hard to keep his composure. Or Giannis Maniatis's embarrassed smile when asked about his 1 July wedding and Grigoris Makos's offer to act as priest!

Or the inseparable 'babies', Kostas Fortounis and Giannis Fetfatzidis, always the first at training. Or Greece's general manager, Panagiotis Fyssas, and the president of the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO), Sofoklis Pilavios, shooting hoops now and then at the press centre of Greece in Legionowo, situated in a basketball hall.

Or the long faces of all the players on 9 June, when their friend Avraam Papadopoulos departed Poland in order to undergo surgery after suffering a knee ligament injury in the opening match against the co-hosts.

The most powerful memory of this past month, however, is Fernando Santos's press conference on 13 June, a day after the defeat by the Czech Republic. Not used to such candour by coaches in the past, we were all impressed by his sincere comment as he shared his post-match thoughts, where it all went wrong, what he could have done differently – a real class act.

Obrigada Senhor Santos. Efharisto paidia – thanks guys. This month has been a privilege.

Last updated: 27/06/12 12.31CET

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