Greece’s 2004 Legends ready to roll back the years
Greece’s legendary former coach Otto Rehhagel gave off the aura of a super-proud grandfather on Friday evening, speaking of the “great friendship” between the Euro 2004-winning squad ahead of Saturday’s charity friendly clash against Spain’s class of 2004 side.
Watch GREECE'S EURO 2004 LEGENDS back in action against Spain's Legends LIVE from AGONAsport on Saturday, June 9.
Excitement has reached fever pitch for the encounter, which is being held for charity at the Pampeloponnisiako Stadium in Patra at 21:00 local time. All proceeds from ticket sales for the match will go to two charities - the Association of Volunteer Doctors for Cancer Patients, and The Child’s Smile in Patras.
“I am delighted to be here and meet up with all the players again,” said a beaming Rehhagel. “What makes me most happy is seeing the great friendship which has been created between all of us for the rest of our lives.”
He added: “I hope tomorrow to see a packed stadium and for the crowd to enjoy a great game of football. We are facing are very tough team who have always produced great players down the years.”
Rehhagel took the opportunity to comment on Greece’s still-unbelievable success of winning the European Championship in that balmy Portuguese summer.
“When I first took over as the national team coach, we had a group of young players who were in the shape and form of their lives,” said the German, who is now 79.
“Sometimes it takes a long time, maybe a whole generation to achieve something similar to what we achieved. Of course, when we first got together, we had no idea that we would enjoy such success. But it came as a result of so much hard work, and it was one which we truly deserved.”
At the press conference, the Greek Legends 2004 were represented by former captain Theo Zagorakis, striker Angelos Charisteas and midfielder Kostas Katsouranis.
Charisteas, the man who scored the match-winning goal in the Euro 2004 final against Portugal, said: “Our national team, and especially this group of players, is not an ordinary team. This is because we managed to achieve one of the biggest surprises ever in world football and it seems like not a day has passed for us. We have a unique bond, we are friends, and even though we grow older we still have the same passion.”
Spain have announced a strong 18-man squad featuring some glittering former talents. Taking to the pitch in Patras will be Ivan Campos, Joan Capdevila, Juanfran, Gaizka Mendieta, Albert Luque, Luis Garcia, Alfonso Pérez, as well as Dani, Pedro Munitis, Juan Carlos Valeron and Juan Sanchez.
Almost a year after the “Greek Legends 2004” lost 4-2 on penalties to “Inter Forever” after the match ended in a 1-1 draw in Crete, the heroes from Greece’s most celebrated sporting success will be hoping to see off their Spanish rivals - for a good cause of course.
Spain will be keen to gain some “revenge” for Greece’s historic win in Zaragoza 15 years ago during the euro 2004 qualifiers, as well as their 1-1 draw with the Greeks during the group stage of the final Euro 2004 tournament.
Watch the match LIVE from AGONAsport.com by following this link.