'We gave happiness to all Greeks' - Samaras

The striker spoke of his delight after his team qualified for the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 with a win over Russia, claiming their success is a gift to the whole nation
Greece attacker Georgios Samaras has stated that his side's qualification for the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 is a much-needed boost to the struggling Greek people.

 Mike Paterakis
 Greece Expert
For a nation crazy about football, the Greek interest in Euro 2012 appears to be non-existent. The financial crisis has been the number one story for the past three years and more recently, the general elections - being held today - have dominated the daily news cycle.

The national team's progress at the Euros has been discussed only as a second-rate issue and the Greece players, aware of the situation in their country, are trying to show an interest when speaking to the press.

After all, many of those still playing for Greek clubs have been affected as well. Even the biggest Greek sides are facing deep financial problems, having failed to keep up with the payments of their contracts.
Fernando Santos' men defeated Russia 1-0, courtesy of a first-half strike by Giorgos Karagounis, to edge Dick Advocaat's team to a place in the next stage of the competition.

And Samaras praised his side's determination, dedicating the triumph to his compatriots during a time in which Greece is wracked by debt and financial uncertainty.

"It's great pleasure for us that we gave happiness to all the Greek people, who are struggling. I am proud of this," the attacker told reporters.

"This was the first game in which we played as a team. We never let the Russians create opportunities. We might have looked tired during the game, but after we scored we wouldn't let the Russians equalise.

"I do not care who we are going to face in the quarter-finals. We should rest now."

Defender Kyriakos Papadopoulus echoed his team-mate's sentiments, but also insisted that his team should focus on their next challenge.

"We have yet to realize what happened. Our performance was huge and we defeated a big team like Russia," he said.

"Now we should focus on our next game. We gave answers to those who never trully had faith on us."