Skibbe signs 2-year deal with Greece, Assures qualification to EURO 2020
Michael Skibbe will be Greece’s head coach for the next two years after putting pen to paper on his new 2-year contract with the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO).
On Thursday, Michael Skibbe signed his new contract deal with EPO and will continue on as Greece’s head coach for the next two years. The German boss will lead Greece in the UEFA Nations League next fall and EURO 2020 qualifying which will take place from March 2019 through November 2019.
After putting pen to paper on his new deal, Skibbe and EPO President Vaggelis Grammenos held a press conference where the 52-year old boss stated that he was proud to be the coach of the Greek national team and assured that Greece will qualify for EURO 2020. He noted that Greece has returned to a competitive level, but improvement is needed to once again reach and compete at the top level. Skibbe also touched on the importance of players playing with their clubs if they want to be called up to the national team.
EPO President, Vaggelis Grammenos, stated the main reason why the federation decided to keep Skibbe in charge of the Ethniki, pointing out Greece’s resurrection after the tragic Euro 2016 qualifying campaign and the speedy progress the national team made under Michael Skibbe. Grammenos pointed out that Greece’s goal is to qualify for EURO 2020 and assured that Skibbe is the man that will lead Greece to the next major tournament.
Below are Skibbe’s responses in today’s press conference.
Regarding his contract renewal: ”Firstly, I would like to say that I am very happy and I want to thank EPO and President Grammenos for the fact that we will be together for two more years. These past two years can be characterized as successful rather than a letdown. Our mission now is to qualify for Euro 2020.”
If he had other offers and his thoughts about staying or leaving: “I had some other offers during these two years with the Ethniki, however, as you all know, I am happy to be in Greece and proud to be the Ethniki’s head coach. I love working with my players and seeing new players join the team. I had some offers, however I want to remain with the national team for many years.”
Regarding his goals and what needs to be fixed in the “new” Ethniki: “We definitely have to analyze the past two years and think about what went right and what went wrong. I am sure that the “spirit” of the Ethniki has returned once again. The Ethniki is back. Now we have to look forward and take step to reach the top level once again. It is crucial that our players play with their club teams. This is highly important in order to be at the top level once again. It was a big issue this go around and it will be resolved if Greek players get playing time with their club teams. It is also important that we work towards improving young talents and follow this strategy for the next 6-7 years, that way we consistently remain at the top level.”
Regarding the Ethniki’s departure from the Karaiskaki stadium: “I am from Germany, I have worked as a coach for the national teams there and from my experience, the German national team can play anywhere; in different stadiums and cities such as Berlin, Bremen, and Hamburger. We are the Ethniki that represents all Greeks and we should play in front of everybody and all fans. It is beneficial for everyone. The Karaiskakis is the best stadium, but it is best for the players and fans that we play in other stadiums as well, such as Northern Greece, the islands, and other areas.”
Regarding calling up players that are or not in the starting XI with their club teams: “As I have said before, it is critical that players play with their club teams. On the other hand, we must have players that compete at a top-class level. If someone does not get enough playing time with their club and competes in a top-class league, hey can still receive a call-up if they receive more playing time in a less competitive league. For example, Vellios was playing great when at Iraklis and was in good form. Then he decided to move to England, where he did not adapt well. He lost his self confidence. It is up to the players and their managers to decide what club they should join as to get playing time. The national team players should be playing at the club level; it is important to us. Unfortunately, big clubs do not have Greek attackers in their rosters. I would like to tell Vellios and all players that are currently not being called-up to the national team, that they must choose teams where they will receive playing time. If this happens, they will join the Ethniki once again.”
Regarding the Nations League: “It is an interesting competition for all national teams and I am happy, as all coaches are, that we will not be playing friendly matches anymore. Our team is competitive once again, but we still have a long ways to go to reach the level of teams like Belgium. We have surely improved and we will try to be more competitive and show our true quality in the next years. More teams will qualify for the EURO than the World Cup and I believe that we will at least finish second in our qualifying group.”
About the mistakes of the past two years: “We have to find players that understand what it is to play for your country and love the national team. We will be asking the players if they are willing to follow the team’s plan and they should respond affirmatively. Then, they must understand that they should join teams where they will be given enough playing time. Especially to those moving abroad, they should not be looking at their salaries but the playing time they will be given. That is the greatest problem and this demand must be made clear to players.”