Greece has been the birthplace of many sports, and as we know the first Olympic games have also been held there, but regarding football, this country has only had a few champions and legends. Today we are going to meet those legends in the best Greek footballers of all time article.
Because most of the
best Greek soccer players
have played for their national team at least once, we'll start by learning about Greece national team before delving deeper and meeting some of the best players this country has ever produced.
Greece had previously been a minor team in international football, with their first taste of success coming in the 1980s. They made their first appearance in a major tournament atUEFA Euro 1980
, and while they did not advance past the group stage, their qualification to the then eight-team tournament placed them among the top eight European football nations that year.
Greece didn't qualify for another major event until the 1994 FIFA World Cup, and after an unblemished qualification campaign, they struggled in the final, losing all three group matches without scoring.
When Greece won theUEFA Euro 2004 tournament
in just their second appearance, it was a watershed moment in the country's football history.
Before the tournament, the squad was seen as a long shot, but they went on to overcome some of the tournament's favorites, including reigning European champions France and host Portugal. Greece beat the host twice throughout the tournament, first in the opening game and again in the final.
Greece qualified for the final tournaments of all but one major competition in the decade after the 2004 success, reaching the quarter-finals of the UEFA Euro 2012 and the round of 16 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
They were in the top 20 of the FIFA World Rankings for all but four months during that span, and achieved an all-time high of the eighth position in the world from April to June 2008 and again in October 2011.
In Greece greatest all-time article, we will take a look at the best players that Greece has ever had to offer. We will also go down to the details on every player and will explore their career, personal life or any information which would be possibly interesting for the football lovers to know.
Now without any further introduction let us hop into the article and find out who deserves to be called a legend in Greek football.
The first man on the list of
greatest Greek football players
is Giorgos Koudas.
Giorgos Koudas is a former professional footballer from Greece who specialized in attacking midfield. He spent his whole professional life with PAOK. Alexander the Great was his moniker due to his intense competitiveness and Macedonian ancestry.
Koudas, who was born in Agios Pavlos, Thessaloniki, started his football career with PAOK, where he made his first-team debut in December 1963 at the age of 17.
From 1963 through 1984, Koudas, also known as Alexander the Great, spent his whole football career at PAOK, earning 504 appearances in the Alpha Ethniki and 607 appearances overall (PAOK all-time records). Koudas was featured in nine Greek Cup finals, winning two of them. In the 1972 Cup final, he scored both goals as PAOK beat Panathinaikos 2–1 to win the club's first domestic trophy.
Now 75-year-old made his last appearance for the national team in a friendly against Yugoslavia on September 20, 1995, after retiring. He held the record for the oldest international player (at the age of 48) until George Weah (at the age of 51) broke it in September 2018.
He resigned from PAOK in 1984, at the age of 37, after more than 20 years of service.
The attacking midfielder was also the subject of a famous song written by Nikos Papazoglou, a Greek composer and PAOK fan, and lyricist Manolis Rasoulis.
Let’s meet another offensive player in the next part of the greatest Greek football players.
Probably the right place for this player as he falls short on achievements compared to other players on the list, but he deserves to be a part of the best Greek soccer players.
Giorgos started his childhood career with Atromitos Piraeus, where he played in the center of midfield, but his coaches quickly recognized his goal-scoring ability.
When he was promoted to the senior squad in 1958, Sideris had an exceptional first season, during which he became the pivot of Atromitos' assault. In 30 league outings, the kids' straightforward, no-hold-back attacking approach netted 28 goals.
In the summer of 1959, Sideris moved to Olympiacos from Atromitos Piraeus.
Despite his reservations, Sideris led Olympiacos to victory in the newly constituted Alpha Ethniki league. However, by all accounts, his first season was a flop.
Now 83-year-old went on to score 225 goals forOlympiacos
, becoming him the club's all-time leading scorer. He was the leading scorer in the Greek First Division three times.
With 29 goals in 1965 and 22 goals in 1967, he was the top scorer in the Greek championship three times. After finishing second behind Bulgaria's Petar Zhekov of CSKA Sofia (36), for the European Golden Boot tournament in 1969, he signed to Belgium'sRoyal Antwerp
FC in 1970. He scored 35 goals in that season.
He was the first Greek player to play for a team outside of Greece in Europe. On February 20, 1972, he played his last game at Karaiskaki Stadium against Panathinaikos. Sideris founded a profitable insurance firm when his football career ended. In addition, Sideris was a prominent attacking player for the Greek national team.
How do you like the best Greek soccer players list so far?
One of the new-age players who has done a lot despite his age and most certainly he deserves to be called one of the
Greece greatest all-time
Georgios Samaras is a former professional footballer who played as a winger or striker for the Greek national team. He was then one of the greatest Greek football players and now, he is OFI Crete's vice–president.
The 36-year-old began his career at OFI Crete before joining Heerenveen in the Eredivisie in 2001. Two years later, he made his first-team debut, and after three more seasons with the club, he transferred to Premier League clubManchester City
for £6 million in 2006. Samaras fell out of favor with the first team when Sven-Goran Eriksson came over as manager.
He was loaned out toCeltic
of the Scottish Premier League in January 2008, and then signed a permanent deal in the summer.
The Striker/Winger scored 74 goals in 249 competitive games to help Celtic win the Scottish league titles in 2008, 2012, 2013, and 2014.
He departed the club at the conclusion of his contract in 2014 and joined West Bromwich Albion, where he played little and had a failed loan spell with Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia. He joined Rayo OKC, an NASL expansion club, in March 2016, and after they folded after one season, he signed with Real Zaragoza.
Despite being eligible to play for Australia since his father Ioannis Samaras was born in Melbourne, Samaras decided to represent Greece, his home nation. He debuted in 2006 and was a regular for the following eight years, gaining 81 caps and scoring nine goals. At Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup, Euro 2012, and the 2014 World Cup, he represented his nation.
Angelos Charisteas is a former forward for the Greek national football team. He is Aris Thessaloniki's sports director.
He has represented Aris Thessaloniki, Werder Bremen,Ajax
, Feyenoord, Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke 04, Arles-Avignon, and Al-Nassr at club level.
He was capped 88 times for Greece, scoring 25 goals in the process. He scored three goals for the UEFA Euro 2004 winning squad, including the game-winning goal againstPortugal
in the final. He also competed for Greece in the Euro 2008 and 2010 World Cups.
The forward made his senior international debut in February 2001, in a 3–3 draw against Russia, after being a regular for the Greek Under-21 team. He made an instant impression, scoring two of Greece's goals on the same day. His goal-scoring prowess persisted, and he finally helped his country qualify for Euro 2004.
Charisteas scored three goals in the Euro 2008 qualifying stages, ensuring Greece's automatic qualification with two games remaining. He would go on to be one of the few Greek players to shine at Euro 2008, scoring the lone goal for the defending champions in their 2–1 loss to Spain. In the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying, he also scored four goals for his nation.
The greek legend was called up again on 8 October 2011 for a qualifying match against Croatia, and again on 11 October 2011, when he scored the game-winning goal in the 85th minute in Georgia, sending Greece to the Euro 2012 Championships automatically.
Charisteas also became Greece's second leading scorer with 25 goals, four less than the retired Nikos Anastopoulos.
"Kostas" Konstantinos Manolas is a center-back for Serie A club Napoli and the Greece national team. Following Manolas' continuous consistency, former Greek national team manager Otto Rehhagel included him in the 30-man preliminary World Cup roster for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, albeit he did not make the final 23-man squad.
Manolas would have to wait another three years before making his international debut in a friendly against Switzerland. Manolas won a berth in manager Fernando Santos' final 23-man roster for the 2014 World Cup thanks to a solid 2013–14 season with Olympiacos.
With a succession of imperious efforts that brought Greece into the knockout rounds of the competition for the first time in its history, the center-back certainly attracted the attention of the watching world in Brazil. In the aftermath of Greece's World Cup defeat to Costa Rica, The Independent ranked him one of the 50 finest players in the tournament.
Manolas and his Roma teammate Edin Dzeko got into an ugly altercation during a World Cup qualification match between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece on June 9, 2017. The game finished in a 0–0 tie, and mayhem ensued after the final whistle, as multiple players and staff members battled.
In a 2–1 Nations League away defeat against Hungary on September 12, 2018, Manolas scored his first goal for Greece, rising above his opponent to head a free-kick past the goalkeeper's hands.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos, also known as Sokratis, is a Greek professional footballer who currently plays as a center-back for Olympiacos of the Super League and the Greece national team.
On February 1, 2008, Papastathopoulos was called up to the Greek senior squad, and on February 5, 2008, he made his debut in a 1–0 friendly win against the Czech Republic. On May 27, 2008, Otto Rehhagel revealed the Greece roster for UEFA Euro 2008, and Papastathopoulos was the unlucky player who was cut from the tentative squad of 24 to the final 23-man selection.
After getting two yellow cards in the first game of the tournament against co-host Poland, Papastathopoulos became the first player to be sent off at UEFA Euro 2012, after what observers deemed two questionable decisions by referee Carlos Velasco Carballo.
Papastathopoulos was nominated to Greece's roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in June 2014. He started each of the team's group games, assisting in their clean sheet against Japan.
Papastathopoulos scored his first international goal in the round of 16 against Costa Rica, equalizing in second-half stoppage time. The Greeks were finally beaten 5–3 by the Central American champions in a penalty shootout.
When speaking to EPO president Evangelos Grammenos on June 11, 2019, following the defeat to Armenia at the Olympic Stadium, Papastathopoulos urged for quick changes to the Greek national team set-up, and he reportedly demanded that Angelos Anastasiadis be dismissed from his job as head coach.
Theodoros Zagorakis is a retired professional footballer from Greece who played as a midfielder. He was also the president of PAOK FC and the captain of the Greece national team that won UEFA Euro 2004.
In 2004, he was selected Greek Male Athlete of the Year. At the European Parliament elections in May 2014, he was elected as a Greek MEP. From March to September 2021, he was also the president of the Hellenic Football Federation.
Zagorakis is a "combative, energetic defensive midfielder with a strong right-foot shot," according to UEFA.com.
He was featured on the cover of FIFA 2001's Greek edition.
On September 7, 1994, Zagorakis made his debut for Greece against the Faroe Islands and began his journey to become one of the best Greek soccer players.
This greek legend was selected Player of the Tournament by UEFA and was chosen to the Team of the Tournament as a result of his contribution to Greece's victory in the 2004 European Championships.
Zagorakis was nominated for the 2004 FIFA World Player of the Year award (he ended 17th, with Spain's and Real Madrid's great, Ral), and UEFA nominated him for the 2004 Ballon d'Or award (he finished fifth, behind Ronaldinho (third place) andThierry Henry
) (fourth place).
He has the record for most straight national team matches (57) from his first cap (excluding one in 2006 due to injury) in a 12-year span (due to injury or non-selection).
On October 5, 2006, Zagorakis announced his retirement from international football after 12 years as the captain ofGreece
Now time for the top 3 of
best Greek soccer players
One more player before we meet the top man of the
best Greek soccer players
Vasilis Hatzipanagis is a retired professional football player from Greece. He played in the Greek Alpha Ethniki for Iraklis and the Soviet Supreme League for Pakhtakor. He also represented Greece and the Soviet Union on the international stage. "The Greek Maradona," according to Hatzipanagis.
Hatzipanagis was born to Greek political exiles in Tashkent (the capital of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic) in 1954.Pakhtakor
had scouted him. They wanted to invest in this unpolished but polished talent, but the rules were strict: he had to seek Soviet citizenship in order to compete in the Soviet top flight.
At the age of 17, Hatzipanagis made his professional debut. He made 96 games and scored 22 goals during his tenure there and was promoted from the Soviet First League to the Soviet Supreme League in 1972.
Hatzipanagis' debut appearance for the Greek national team, in a friendly match against Poland at the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium in May 1976, was another highlight.
The long-haired marvel, who appeared to accomplish anything he pleased with the ball, enchanted the Athens throng. Hatzipanagis was then informed that he was disqualified for overseas service since he had previously represented the Soviet Union.
He made his second appearance for the national team several years after retiring, playing 20 minutes in a friendly match against Ghana on December 14, 1999, when he was recognized by the Hellenic Football Federation for his total commitment to the game.
Now the time has come, and we would not keep you waiting anymore, thus let us see who's on the top of the best Greek soccer players list.
Starting top 3 of the best Greek soccer players list with Giorgos Delkaris.
Georgios Delikaris is a retired Greek footballer who played for Olympiacos F.C. for most of his career. He is generally regarded as one of the best Greek footballers of all time, finishing fourth in the Greek voting for the UEFA Jubilee Awards and first among former Olympiacos players.
He's been dubbed the "Gianni Rivera of Greece," and he's been likened to George Best because of their comparable appearances and playing styles. Though he is still regarded as an Olympiacos great, he is also renowned for his three-year stint with arch-rivals Panathinaikos F.C., which ended prematurely when he opted to retire at the age of 29.
Georgios Delikaris has shied away from the limelight since 1981, seldom appearing in public and avoiding football. Little is known about the circumstances behind his exits from Olympiacos and Panathinaikos, and he refuses to provide any information.
With the proliferation of numerous unfounded rumors and anecdotes connected to those eras as well as his life after football, he has become even more legendary.
It is known that he has struggled financially at times, that he was involved in the auto-trade business, that he lost a large sum of money when the Albanian economy collapsed in 1997, that he was the co-owner of a restaurant in his hometown neighborhood, and that he was rumored to be a taxi-driver as of 2009.
Who do you think is next up on the best Greek soccer players list?
Now the last athlete on the list is definitely the best among Greece greatest all-time.
Dimitris "Mimis" Domazos is a former professional footballer from Greece who specialized in attacking midfield. "The General" was his moniker.
Vicky Moscholiou, a well-known singer, was Domazos's wife. They have two daughters together. He has become a businessman since retirement and often writes comment sections for Greek sports media. He is the owner of a five-a-side football franchise. Christos Domazos (born May 12, 1991) is his nephew and presently plays for the Rethymno football club in Division C.
His debut encounter with the national team was on December 2, 1959, at Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium against Denmark (Greece lost 3–1), and his last was on November 11, 1980, on the same field againstAustralia
(3–3). During this time, he was the captain of the national team. He was capped 50 times and scored four goals throughout his career.
Many believe Mimis Domazos to be one of the finest players Greece has ever produced. He was known for his dribbling prowess, imaginative passing, particularly long passes with pinpoint precision, and leadership.
He captained Panathinaikos F.C. for nearly 15 years. Domazos was named the longest-active player in Greek football history when he retired in 1980, having played for more than 21 years.
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