Greece have not played in the junior continental finals since the 2000 UEFA European Under-16 Championship, but are preparing to end that decade in exile as they feature in the U17 showpiece for the first time since the new classification was introduced. Former international Leonidas Vokolos look charge of the squad in August and he spoke to UEFA.com about his players' qualities and their chances in Group B against Turkey, England and the Czech Republic.
UEFA.com: Are you happy to be in the finals after so many years away?
Leonidas Vokolos: For us it is very good to come here. It is the first time Greece have qualified since 2000, when there used to be 16 teams in the finals. Plus it is a big honour to be in this tournament where we know all the teams are very good. Our group is good and I want my team to give their best in this tournament.
UEFA.com: You start against your neighbours Turkey...
Vokolos: It is not something very bad; it is very good for us. We are neighbours and it is a football game, nothing else. Turkey are the same as any other team for us; nothing different.
UEFA.com: Then you play England, what do you think of them?
Vokolos: England have a very good football school, We know about England that they work very well with the kids right up to under-21 level. But it is just one game, that's nothing. Every team in this tournament has roughly equal chances, maybe some teams a little more but this tournament is about small details – whichever team has that on their side, they can win it.
UEFA.com: What about the Czech Republic?
Vokolos: The Czech team are very good. We played their U16s recently and we saw they are developing. They have a good team but in our group anything can happen.
UEFA.com: Why did this squad qualify while their predecessors failed to?
Volokos: We've been together since August and the guys are very disciplined, and about this I am very happy. And that's on and off the pitch.
My philosophy and our philosophy in the federation is to have discipline off the pitch, this is the most important characteristic. And they are a good team, they play like a team, we don't rely on one or two players to make the difference.
UEFA.com: How would you compare being an international player to coaching the national youth team?
Volokos: It is difficult to say. It is totally different. It is one thing to play football and quite another to be a coach. Especially with this age group and a coach must be a psychologist; he must work on the mentality of the players. I try to make the kids better. When I was a player I was always learning. Now it is the same; I still try to learn and improve. I like it a lot.
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