Why Holebas Stopped from the National Team
After Greece’s victory against Estonia, Jose Holebas announced that he will not continue to play for the Greek National Team. According to various sources there were multiple reasons for Holebas’s departure from the Galanolefki.
According to gazzetta.gr, many factors led to Holebas’ decision to “retire” from the Greek National Team. After Greece’s friendly win over Holland in early September, Holebas requested from Skibbe that he not play in the left wing position, but that he would rather play in his natural position, left-back. Skibbe, who has clearly made his statement that he is in charge of the team, told Holebas that he will use him where the team needs him. This small confrontation could be why Holebas was benched against Gibraltar and why Holebas began to contemplate about stopping from the National Team after the qualifier against Gibraltar. Gazzetta.gr also mentioned that Skibbe was extremely close to not calling Holebas up for the qualifiers against Gibraltar, Cyprus, and Estonia, but the two made up and Holebas continued.
The qualifiers against Cyprus and Estonia came along and Holebas was substituted on for 7 minutes against Cyprus while watching the match against Estonia from the bench. That caused more frustration from the 32-year old and Skibbe said that he makes the decisions for the team, he ultimately gets judged by his decisions, and that he does not want to force anyone to play for the National Team. After Skibbe’s talk to the players at the conclusion of the Estonia match, Holebas made it known to his teammates that he will not continue to play for Greece. He mentioned that he wants to create space for the younger players and that he thanks everyone during his stay with the National Team. Before he departed for England, Holebas said to gazzetta.gr “I am not respected by anyone in Greece and that there is no reason for me to continue with the team.”
For sometime now, Holebas only kept in close contact with Kostas Mitroglou from the National Team. It seemed that he was an “outsider” within the team. When Greece was facing tough times during Euro 2016 Qualifying, especially in their loss to the Faroe Islands, Holebas was one of the few players that defended Claudio Ranieri (former Greek coach) and criticized the mindset of the other Greek players.
On Facebook, Holebas confirmed his retirement from the National Team, saying that he will focus his time on the most competitive league in the world, the English Premier League. After a tough first year at Watford, Holebas has been a consistent starter for the English club this season. He went on to thank everyone and said that it was an honor and joy to play for his country. Some of the best moments in his career were with the National Team, especially at the 2016 FIFA World Cup.
This would not be the first time a Greek player has made an early exit from the National Team due to issues with the coach or their current situation. When Otto Rehhagel was in charge, two of Greece’s best players at the time, Akis Zikos and Grigoris Georgatos, did not agree with “King Otto” and only played in one game while he was in charge.
Holebas was called up for the first time in 2011 and made 38 appearances with Greece. He scored 1 goal (friendly against Ireland), had 4 assists, and had the honor to play at Euro 2012 and the 2014 World Cup. Holebas made his name known with Olympiacos and the National team which led him to big signings with Roma and currently Watford in the English Premier League.
Although Holebas’ “official” reason for stopping from the National Team was to create space for the younger players, his issues with Skibbe (position, playing time) was the main reason for his departure.