Millions of Greeks around the world erupted in joyful celebration, hardly believing their eyes after Greece beat hosts Portugal to win UEFA EURO 2004™ on Sunday.
The Greek squad, coached by German Otto Rehhagel, started the tournament as rank outsiders but after defeating Portugal in the opening game, fought their way to the final past holders France and a free-flowing Czech Republic side before beating the hosts again.
"This is a victory for Greek people all over the world, we hope we have given them something of our joy and something to carry with them in the future," said Greece captain Theodoros Zagorakis.
Fireworks and chanting
Not for the first time in recent weeks, thousands flooded streets and squares across Greece after the final whistle, draped in the national colours of blue and white, whistling, setting off fireworks and chanting the national anthem. In Athens, a city coiled in wait for next month's Olympic Games, hundreds of thousands made their way downtown in cars, on mopeds and on foot, beeping car horns, waving flags and hugging total strangers.
Flares turned night to day around central Omonia Square, where people climbed up statues, lamp posts and trees and joined marching bands in clapping and singing.
Celebrations were triggered when a 57th-minute goal by Angelos Charisteas united every Greek in the land. Even prime minister Kostas Karamanlis jumped up and down in the stands of the Estádio da Luz in Lisbon, clenching his fists and cheering.
Karamanlis said: "These boys taught us a lesson as to what Greeks can do when we really believe in something, when we are united and have self-confidence, dynamism and method in achieving it. This is the best invitation to the Olympics, because this great Greek summer continues in one and a half months with the Games."
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