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Zagorakis promises Athens party

Greece's UEFA EURO 2004™-winning captain Theodoros Zagorakis predicted that Athens would "put on a great show" for the UEFA Champions League final in May.

Greece's UEFA EURO 2004™-winning captain Theodoros Zagorakis expects Athens to "put on a great show" when this season's UEFA Champions League reaches its climax with the final at the Olympic Stadium in the Greek capital on 23 May.

Ambassador for final
Zagorakis, who is UEFA's ambassador for the final, took part in the quarter-final draw at the Megaron International Conference Centre today and said: "It's a great honour for me to be chosen as the ambassador of the final." Looking ahead to the May showpiece, the PAOK FC midfielder added: "It will be a great event for Athens and for Greece and I will do everything in my power to help make the event a great success."

Rise to the occasion
Zagorakis, 35, retired from international football last year after winning 119 caps and knows only too well the ability of his countrymen to throw a party following the jubilant scenes in Athens when Greece triumphed at UEFA EURO 2004™. "The one thing I'm sure of is that the Greek people will make everybody welcome here and will host a great party," he said. "Greeks have proved that we can rise to the occasion in every event we have organised so far, such as two previous European Cup finals and the Olympics in 2004. The city is very hospitable and I'm sure the people of Athens will put on a great show."

Previous finals
Athens has staged two European Champion Clubs' Cup finals, witnessing Hamburger SV's 1-0 defeat of Juventus in 1983 and AC Milan's 4-0 thrashing of FC Barcelona in 1994. The Olympic Stadium also provided the backdrop for the 1987 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final, where AFC Ajax beat FC Lokomotiv Leipzig 1-0. Zagorakis, who will call time on his distinguished playing career at the end of the season, said it was a fitting venue for the conclusion to the UEFA Champions League campaign.

'Magnificent stadium'
"It's a magnificent stadium for football and I know it will rise to the occasion both for players and fans alike when 23 May comes around," he said. "When we talk about the Champions League we talk about the ultimate trophy and the ultimate competition in football, and we are delighted to have the final here in Athens."