Porto: Greece coach Otto Rehhagel hailed the 1-0 silver goal victory over Czech Republic in Thursday’s Euro 2004 semi-final as a miracle. “The fairy tale continues, it’s unbelievable what they did,” he said.“It’s a true miracle. The Czechs were technically better but the passion and the will was on our side.
“We had nothing to lose, we could risk everything. We could play for all or nothing. We showed strength in extra time and we managed to grab the win. The players put into practice what I told them. I give advice and they implement it.
“We worked hard for this for three years, step by step. The team has won tremendous confidence. We’ve made some fortunate decisions and they’ve worked out.”
Greece, 80-1 outsiders to win the title before the tournament, play hosts Portugal in Sunday’s final. They had not won a match at a major tournament before coming to Portugal.
“Now we’ll have the fairytale final,” said Rehhagel. “We beat the Portugese in the first match and they managed to stay in the tournament and now it’s the dream final against us, a chance to get revenge for the first match. “We’re the underdogs, but we have nothing to lose.”
Asked if Greece could beat the hosts he said: “In football everything is possible, we don't have anything to lose. “We’re the winners of this tournament.”
Greece’s goalscorer Traianos Dellas, who netted just before the break in extra time, thanked God for victory. “Today we did an unrepeatable thing. We deserve to be in the final, we proved we have an organised and good team. At the end God gave us the win.”
“I realised when we were given the corner that exactly 14 minutes 36 seconds of extra time had been played. I said to myself that now we must do it. Someone heard me,” Dellas said looking towards the heavens.
“And after that I scored. I thank from the bottom of my heart the Greek fans who were here and those back home. I think we have done something historic.”
Midfielder Stelios Giannakopoulos said: “I hope that God will help my son to live the moments that I have just lived because you cannot buy these moments with all the gold of the world.
“We have lived a dream and we don’t want to ever wake up. But although we are in the clouds now we have to stay on the ground because our bodies need to recover by Sunday. Greeks can keep dancing until Sunday but for us we can only dance tonight.”
Angelos Haristeas said: “It’s just unbelievable. I’m totally happy. It’s the best moment in Greek football history.”
“This has not sunk in, no way,” midfielder Angelos Basinas said.“We are just so overwhelmed by this accomplishment we cannot believe it.”
Goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis said he wanted to savour the moment.“We can’t think about this (final) match, no way. Today we will enjoy the night and from tomorrow we can start focusing our thoughts on the final.”
“The last minutes of the match are always dangerous,” said Czech coach Karel Bruckner. “I am not dissatisfied. I told my boys I am proud of them. Our appearance here was not bad. Nedved told the team it was the best one he ever played with.”
Bruckner, whose team did not lose a game in qualifying and had won their last nine competitive matches, congratulated the Greeks for reaching the final.
“They are very good in defense,” Bruckner said. “In the second half we played comparatively good. But our opponents were more productive.
“I had seen Greece against Spain and France and they played effective, good football and I cordially wish them to play so effectively in the final.”