Greece captain Theodoros Zagorakis has been named as the JVC UEFA EURO 2004™ Player of the Tournament.
The result was announced in Lisbon today by UEFA's technical study group, the group of coaches and technical experts which is compiling a report on technical and tactical trends to arise from the competition in Portugal.
AEK Athens FC midfield player Zagorakis, 32, was an inspirational figure in Greece's astonishing march to the European title - an adventure which climaxed at last night's final, when coach Otto Rehhagel's team stunned the football world by beating hosts Portugal 1-0 at the Estádio da Luz.
Zagorakis led by example as Greece eclipsed Spain and Ukraine to top qualifying Group 6, playing all eight qualifiers and helping his side to six clean sheets in as many victories and an automatic passage to Portugal. He also impressed in the final round as the team overcame supposedly superior opposition with their organisation and courage.
Gérard Houllier was just one of the sport's respected figures who showered Zagorakis with praise. "He was captain, man of the match in the first game and in the last," said Houllier. "He was influential and showed leadership, and he is also a good player - his skills and technique showed in [the] final."
For the first time, the fans have also had a say in who wins this prestigious accolade. Their voting on euro2004.com, the official tournament website, was considered by the UEFA Technical Committee when deciding the winner.
The EURO technical study group comprises eight members: Roy Hodgson, Houllier, Anghel Iordanescu, György Mezey, Holger Osieck, Jozef Venglos, Berti Vogts and Andy Roxburgh. Each of these cast one vote for the Player of the Tournament, and the ninth vote came from euro2004.com.
Commenting on the Player of the Tournament award, JVC director Yutaka Ichijo said: "As official audio-visual partner of EURO 2004™, JVC can bring the game closer to the fans watching on television, and by involving the fans in the vote for the prestigious JVC Player of the Tournament we are bringing them that little bit closer. JVC is proud to sponsor this award and is delighted that the captain of the winning team, Theodoros Zagorakis, has been selected as the winner."
The presentation of the JVC EURO 2004™ Player of the Tournament trophy will be arranged around the UEFA Football Gala in Monaco on 26 August, at events which herald the start of the new European season.
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