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Last Updated: Monday, 5 July, 2004, 13:53 GMT 14:53 UK
Greatest Euro shock ever?
By John May

Is Greece's victory over Portugal to win Euro 2004 more surprising than Denmark's 1992 triumph over Germany?


Greece coach Otto Rehhagel

Greece had never won a match at the final stages of an international tournament before Euro 2004.

Yet within three weeks, the achievements of coach Otto Rehhagel and his side have ensured they will never again be thought of as two-bit, no-hopers.

Indeed, the fact that Greece had such a reputation in the first place proves you can fool most of the people, most of the time.

Nobody wanted to believe the fact that since Rehhagel took over in October 2001, Greece have quietly evolved into an efficient international team.

The rocky early days of Rehhagel's reign included a 5-1 World Cup qualifier defeat to Finland and the nadir of a 2-1 defeat to Cyprus in a friendly international.

But he waved his magic wand, and in 21 non-competitive internationals before Euro 2004, Greece won 12, drew six and lost four (and two of those defeats were in their last three warm-up games.)

Their Euro 2004 qualifying campaign itself began with the hiccups of 2-0 defeats by Spain and Ukraine, but that was a mere blip as they won their next six games to actually finish top of the group.

And yet still, Greece were thought of as outsiders, at odds of 150-1 coming into the tournament.

Panagiotis Fyssas: Benfica
Traianos Dellas: Roma
Angelos Charisteas:
Werder Bremen
Giorgios Karagounis:
Inter Milan
Demis Nikolaidis:
Atletico Madrid
Zisis Vryszas: Fiorentina
Stelios Giannakopoulos: Bolton
Nikos Dabizas: Leicester

So to come through as winners of the whole competition is all the more astonishing.

Would it have been such a shock if their players had been more well-known before the tournament?

Sure, English supporters knew of Nikos Dabizas, Traianos Dellas, Stelios Giannakopoulos and Theo Zagorakis through their involvement at Newcastle, Sheffield United, Bolton and Leicester.

And though 15 of the 23-strong squad were plying their trade in Greek domestic football, a significant core were already with Europe's top clubs.

Nevertheless, the bottom line is that even armed with all this information, no-one would have had any of them down as potential European Championship medal winners.

Our verdict:
A bigger shock, which no-one could have predicted.


Fleming Povlesen lifts the European Championship trophy in 1992
Denmark's win was a romantic triumph

If Greece's triumph was a conjuring trick, then perhaps Denmark's 1992 victory was blurred by the soft focus of romanticism.

They were supposedly the team that stepped off the beach to sweep their way to an unlikely victory with a romantic, wind-in-the-hair attacking attitude to sweep aside the powerful Germans in the final.

And yes it was a shock, but was it as big as we remember?

After all, there were only eight teams in the tournament in those days.

The political situation at the time meant Yugoslavia's expulsion had been on the cards, and the Danes knew that as runners-up in the group, they would be the understudies.

They may not have had the same preparation time as other countries, but their stand-by state of half-readiness did not mean the players were exactly emptying the sand from their shoes.

The pedigree of Denmark's players also dictated that it should not have been a complete surprise.

The 1992 vintage boasted the likes of Peter Schmeichel, already a hit at Manchester United, along with John Sivabaek, Morten Olsen and Brian Laudrup, as well as the Arsenal bound John Jensen.

Prior to that, the Danes had produced stars such Michael Laudrup, Jesper Olsen, Preben Elkjaer, and Soren Lerby and so, if anything, they had underperformed considering their pedigree.

Our verdict:
A stunning result, but less of an upset.

Links to more Euro 2004 stories


Watch highlights: Portugal 0-1 Greece

Which is the bigger shock result?
Greece beating Portugal to win Euro 2004
Denmark beating Germany to win Euro 92
7395 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Vote now closed


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