Samaras: We want to give Greece a lift like in 2004

The Celtic striker is keen to lift the gloom in his homeland with a positive performance reminiscent of the side's European Championship success a decade ago
By Ben Hayward in Belo Horizonte

Greece striker Georgios Samaras hopes to give his country a lift with a strong showing at the World Cup - just like the national team did by winning Euro 2004.

Greece stunned Europe by claiming the continental crown 10 years ago, sending their fans into raptures with success over hosts Portugal in the final.

A decade on, the nation is immersed in a debilitating financial crisis and Samaras is keen to give some joy to the people back home with success in Brazil.

"Football provides joy to everyone," he said in a press conference ahead of his side's World Cup opener against Colombia in Belo Horizonte on Saturday. "I don't want to mix politics with football, but of course it would be a great pleasure to make the people in Greece rejoice.

"That's what we did in 2004 and I hope we would be able to do the same here."

And team-mate Georgios Karagounis, one of just two survivors from the 2004 squad, says that triumph has helped the side in recent years.

"What we achieved 10 years ago fills us with confidence, but it's not just that. We have had other successes as well, like finishing in the last eight at Euro 2012, but yes, 2004 was very important for us."

Coach Fernando Santos was less keen to compare, however.

"That was 2004 and this is now," he said. "We're just here to do as well as possible."