Celtic and Greece striker Georgios Samaras looks forward to Euro 2012
How would you describe the mood in the camp going into the Euros?
The mood is great. We had a tough qualification group and for a small country like Greece to get into the Euros again is great. Croatia came to Athens a point ahead of us but I was fortunate to score the goal that put us in front late on. The feeling from that goal was unbelievable.
What do you make of your group?
The group is strange: there are no favourites. Everyone can win, and because of that a team will not need more than four or five points. And if a team gets two wins, they are through for sure.
Do you think the European Championship is a tougher trophy to win than the World Cup?
In the World Cup you can maybe have an easier game than you’d get in the Euros if you have a team from Asia or Africa. ?And if there are no ‘surprises’ for any of the teams because we face each other often, maybe the semi-finals of the Euros are tougher than World Cup semis. But you can’t say any more that international football is easy.
How do you think England will fare?
England have the best league and world-class players who work hard, but I don’t know how much Capello leaving will change things. Still, you can never rule out England.
Who are the up-and-coming Greek stars that we should be keeping an eye out for?
There is a new generation now. Most of the boys who won in 2004 have retired. Sotiris Ninis, a 21-year-old midfielder at Panathinaikos, is a great talent, as is Kyriakos Papadopoulos, a defender with Schalke, who got him from Olympiakos at 17. That is good for the Greek team because if you go abroad, you mature quicker.
What are you looking to achieve personally going into this tournament?
I never see football as personal. My goal is to do something for the team and bring some happiness to the Greek people. If you want personal glory, you should play tennis or golf.
Greece’s economic problems are well publicised. How aware are the team that they might be able to bring some happiness to the country’s people?
Football gives you something really special. We had a full house for the Croatia game, and after we won everyone had smiles on their faces for days. People could forget about their personal problems for a while. Football does that.
Greece failed to make it out of their group at the World Cup. How much of a motivating factor is that this time around?
We were a bit unlucky in South Africa. We had chances to go through and we had to face Argentina in the last game and that’s tough. That experience was good for us. We don’t have anything to prove – no extra motivation. It is there already.
Interview by Phil Gordon. From the June 2012 issue of FourFourTwo.