SPORTS

Key Greek striker looks back to the glory days of Euro 2004

Looking back at Greece’s astonishing Euro 2004 triumph in Portugal last summer, striker Angelos Charisteas, a key scorer in the campaign, acknowledged the magnitude of the national team’s extraordinary success while also noting that club-level commitments for squad members, as well as the current World Cup qualifiers, curtailed the party. «There’s no doubt that, following the title success, we had little time to enjoy it, especially the squad’s members playing abroad,» said Charisteas, who plays club soccer with defending champion Werder Bremen in Germany’s Bundesliga. «We were forced to pull back from the state of euphoria and return to the countries where we play our club soccer to get back into the regular swing of things… Three months following the success, it’s still all before us. We’re going to keep seeing what we experienced in Portugal. After all, Greek fans, who for the first time felt so proud of the national soccer team, will, I believe, never forget this triumph because it may never come again,» he added. «Commenting on his legion of admirers, including youngsters sporting jerseys with his name on them, Charisteas said he felt proud to have reached sports-idol status. «I’m very glad that lots of youngsters are wearing my jersey. I’m proud that I’ve managed to reach the level of role model for youngsters making their first steps in soccer, as well for offering so much to joy the people,» said Charisteas. «Certainly, this fills me with responsibility as, from now on, people expect more success each time the national team plays,» he added. Greece’s next objective, Charisteas said, was to keep the national team’s standards high in the World Cup qualifiers. But Greece will need to rebound following a subdued start. After losing its opening match to Albania in Tirana, Greece then registered a scoreless draw against Turkey at home and, most recently, needed to fight back for a 1-1 draw against Ukraine in Kiev. With two points from three games, Greece lies second from last in Group 2 but has played a game less than front runner Ukraine, on eight points, and second-placed Turkey and Albania, on six points apiece. The top-placed side qualifies automatically for the World Cup finals in Germany in 2006. «With the help of our coach, we’re trying to overcome the slow start,» said Charisteas,«and get back into the winning rhythm generated in Portugal.»