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Giorgos Karagounis - His ability to regularly inspire his team-mates makes him an important member and rightful captain of the Greek national team. While Karagounis missed the biggest match in Greece’s history – the EURO 2004 final – through suspension, the Ethniki’s maestro has played an important role in steering Greece to much of its success in recent years.
Spending most of his career in Greece with Panathinaikos, Karagounis has enjoyed successful spells in Italy and Portugal. After being unable to reach an agreement with Panathinaikos, Karagounis opted to sign for Inter ahead of the 2003-04 season. While he was a quality player for the Nerazzurri in his first season at San Siro, his second was not as successful – despite his pivotal performances for Greece at EURO 2004.
With the lack of playing time an issue, Karagounis returned to the familiar Estadio da Luz – the venue at which he watched Greece hoist silverware in July 2004 – this time as a Benfica player. The transition to life in Lisbon initially proved tough for Karagounis; however, after being united with Fernando Santos, who he knew from Panathinaikos, as manager and the arrival of compatriot of Kostas Katsouranis, allowed Karagounis to settle down in the Portuguese capital.
Despite the familiarity at the club, his stay with Benfica was short-lived as a return home with Panathinaikos was next up for Karagounis. With his acquisition by the Athenians regarded as the start of a new era at the club, Karagounis emerged not only as leading figure on the club level, but for Greece as well. He established himself as leader of the national team and has filled the void in the squad that came with the retirement of captain Thodoris Zagorakis. Karagounis’ grit and dedication continues to give for Panathinaikos a definitive edge as his influential qualities have allowed Panathinaikos to make successful strides in Europe. The 2009-10 season, however, could be his first chance to win some silverware – both domestically and possibly in Europe – since returning to his boyhood club.
Did You Know?
Karagounis has scored six goals for the Greek national team. Of the six, three have come against Portugal, including the opening goal at EURO 2004 – Greece’s first-ever goal at a European Championship since the tournament expanded to sixteen teams in 1996.
1996 Greek Championship (Panathinaikos)
2004 European Championship (Greece)
2005 Coppa Italia (Inter)
2005 Portuguese Super Cup (Benfica)
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