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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May, 2004, 12:24 GMT 13:24 UK
Greece grab Euro chance
Greece's coach Otto Rehhagel (second left) celebrates with his players after qualifying for Euro 2004
Best performance:
Round 1 in 1980
Recent performances:
1980 R1
1984-2000: Did not qualify
Greece's European Championship debut was less than auspicious - a 7-1 away defeat to France in a 1958 qualifier.

In the next two decades things barely got better - Greece withdrew from the 1964 competition and in 1970 and 1976 finished as group runners-up.

The national team's fortunes improved under coach Alketas Panagoulias and in 1980 he guided the country to their first major finals.

They lost two games in the finals in Italy, but did draw against Germany.

Greece then spent another 24 years in the European Championship wilderness, though they did qualify for the 1994 World Cup finals.

Their fortunes, however, took a turn for the better with the appointment of German coach Otto Rehhagel.

At the start of the qualifying campaign for Euro 2004, Greece initially struggled, losing their first two games against Spain and Ukraine.

But after a record six consecutive wins, without a single goal conceded, Greece topped their qualifying group to leave Spain the task of negotiating a play-off against Norway.

Rehhagel's greatest achievement has been to work a remarkable change in attitude of his players towards the national side.

For years they were dubbed the "national holiday makers" for their lack of commitment.

Their lack of gumption was encapsulated in their only appearance in the World Cup finals during USA 1994.

The Greeks' trip across the Atlantic ended in dismal failure as they lost to Argentina, Nigeria and Bulgaria - the second worst World Cup performance after Zaire's in 1974.

But Rehhagel has changed all that, with his squad, many of whom are with top European clubs including Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid and Roma, keen to play under the German.

Links to more Greece stories



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