Giorgos Katidis never doubted Greece would reach the UEFA European Under-19 Championship final, and he believes that certainty has played a crucial role in the team's success.
Kostas Tsanas' side have gone from strength to strength in Estonia, opening with a 2-1 loss to final opponents Spain but bouncing back in style. A fine matchday three display defeated Portugal 3-2 and booked a place in the semi-finals, where they surpassed even that. Leading England 1-0, Greece lost goalkeeper Stefanos Kapino to a red card at the end of the first half but, despite conceding an equaliser in the second period, a tireless effort was rewarded by Charalambos Lykogiannis's extra-time winner – justifying the faith of the captain.
We expected this from the very beginning; we had a bad start against Spain but even from the second half of that match we've gone up, and up, and up – and we deserve to be in the final," Katidis told UEFA.com. "Even against England, when we had a player less, we didn't doubt we would qualify for the final – not for a minute. That certainty, passion and will is what has got us to here."
Spain scored twice in the first 40 minutes against Greece on matchday one to set the platform for their victory and Katidis knows that, to have any chance of lifting the trophy for the first time, his side can ill afford a repeat of that slow start. "In the first match we showed two faces, a bad face in the first half and a good one in the second – so we must play like we did in the second half," he explained.
"For sure, we can't start like we did in the first match," added the Aris Thessaloniki FC midfielder, who said his side plan to attempt to exploit Spain's seeming vulnerability to crosses – the route by which France scored all three goals in their semi-final against La Rojita. "We must play with patience, and the will and passion we've showed in all the games. But every final is different – if we played Spain ten times, no two matches would be the same."
One thing is certain; Greece will certainly not lack for effort at the Lilleküla Stadium, Katidis repeatedly promising his team-mates will give their all. "We're so happy to be in the final, and we'll make sure we do our best," he added. "We've worked together for almost three years, we're united and like a family. The memories from the final whistle against England will stay with me for a long time. This is a great success at a young age and it will follow us for the rest of our lives. Even if I tried to forget about it, I never could – even if we lose." Katidis and Greece have unshakeable confidence it will not come to that.
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