Greece's feat in reaching the UEFA EURO 2004™ semi-finals has provoked a strong reaction from the players who made it possible.
"It still hasn't sunk in. This is an amazing achievement," Greece captain Theodoros Zagorakis told euro2004.com. It was the 32-year-old who provided the ball for Angelos Charisteas to score the only goal of last night's win against France with a thumping header. Although Greece had never won a game at a major finals before arriving in Portugal, Zagorakis said "there is no secret" to the success. He added: "We just played very well. We've proven we are a very good team."
The magnitude of the achievement is not lost on goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis. "To knock out France and deservedly go through to the semi-finals is a great achievement which we should all seize on for the future of Greek football," he told euro2004.com. "It was perhaps our best performance, we didn't let them do anything. If we can play as well as we have done in three of our four matches, then we can achieve great things."
Strong teams left
In Thursday's semi-final, Greece will face the winner of tomorrow's quarter-final between Denmark and the Czech Republic. "We have no preference for our opponent," Nikopolidis said. "All the teams are very strong and as we've already seen, some of the strongest teams have been knocked out. So it makes no difference who we play."
The mood in the camp is naturally upbeat, with central defender Mihalis Kapsis paying tribute to the side's mental strength, as shown at the Estádio José Alvalade yesterday. "It's not just a matter of tactics, we played with character," he said. And while no one is getting carried away, the players are well aware how close to the final they are. Midfield player Konstantinos Katsouranis concluded: "We will give it our all in the next match and see what happens."
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