In what has become a twice-weekly ritual as Greece have cut down more fancied opponents, the capital Athens, as well as towns, villages and islands throughout the nation of ten million, burst into fireworks, noise and dancing following the national team's UEFA EURO 2004™ semi-final victory against the Czech Republic last night.
With each win, the celebrations have become larger, louder and more exuberant. Greece, who had never won a game at a major tournament before EURO 2004™, will play the host nation Portugal in Sunday's Estádio da Luz final after Traianos Dellas headed a silver-goal winner at the end of the first period of extra time. An hour after the game in Porto ended, more than 100,000 people had descended on Omonia Square in Athens where a giant television screen had been erected.
Prime minister Kostas Karamanlis announced he would travel to Lisbon to watch the final. "Get out on the streets everyone and celebrate. This is our time," radio announcers urged listeners. The celebrations spread far beyond Greece to the Greek diaspora which is one of the most extensive in the world. On the Greek part of the divided island of Cyprus, Cypriots claimed the victory as their own.
Berserk in Berlin
About 4,000 Greek fans, gathered in front of a giant television screen in the centre of Berlin, went berserk when the goal was scored. "No, it's not Athens, it's Berlin," German TV commentator Johannes Kerner assured German viewers as the square became a sea of Greek flags. A German television call-in survey found 23 per cent wanted Greece's German coach, Otto Rehhagel, known as King Otto, to come home and coach Germany.
In Australia, thousands of Greek fans celebrated their country's victory by stopping the traffic in the inner city suburbs of Leichardt and Enmore in Sydney this morning. In Melbourne, fans cried tears of joy and let off flares in the city streets.
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