Everybody loves an underdog story. I’m sure everyone remembers the David and Goliath story from when they were younger. Well this story is exactly what that is all about.
In 2004 Portugal held the UEFA European Football Championship.
The tournament had it all.
From the underdog story to it being the last major International tournament where we saw Pierluigi Collina officiate.
And of course, you can’t forget the match ball. The Adidas Roteiro was incredible.
Similar to the previous two competitions, it was contested by 16 teams, 15 of which had qualified and the hosts.
It was 12th June, and the holders were going to kick off the tournament with a match that seemed to be a pretty easy start against the tournament underdogs Greece.
In a game that was heavily dominated by the Portuguese side, it was in fact the underdogs that game out on top 2-1.
While Portugal dominated with a total of 19 shots and 63% possession, Greece had perfected their defensive stability and quick counter-attack, and this would prove decisive in the result.
The shocks did not end there. As the tournament progressed through to the knockout stages, we saw the exit of Germany, Italy, Croatia and Spain.
In a tournament of surprise stories, Euro 2004 kept on giving.
When holders France came up against Greece it looked like time was up for the underdogs, and their fun was over.
Once again, after a domination from the other nation, Greece scraped through, knocking out France in a victory that, to this day, is still one of the most shocking footballing results.
Greece adopted a certain style of play for the Euros and played it perfectly.
This would be proven in the semi-final with another 1-0 win this time against Czech Republic.
After an exceptional run, Greece found themselves in the final.
The final would be contested by the two teams who opened the tournament.
With Portugal the hosts and by far the stronger team on paper, they were clear favourites to be lifting the trophy come the final whistle.
The theme for this match was almost identical to any other involving Greece in the competition.
With 17 shots to four and possession of 58%, Portugal, much like the opening match, dominated.
However, Greece held on, and in the 57th minute Greece’s only shot on target found the back of the net giving them a 1-0 lead.
Angelos Charisteas’ header would prove to be the only goal of the competition.
Greece had done it. They had won the Euros.
A fantastic story.
They had not come up against easy oppositions either.
Greece manager Otto Rehhagel was thought to be the mastermind behind the success and to date is the only foreign manager to ever win the competition.
Although the efforts from the Greek side were tremendous, we did see other fantastic performances throughout the competition.
Team of the Tournament
Where are they now?
Petr Čech (Czech Republic)
With five FA Cups and four League winners’ medals being only half of the achievements in the goalkeeper’s career, it really does show the success the Czech had.
Čech is currently back at Chelsea as a technical and performance advisor.
In 2019, Čech also signed for Guildford Phoenix, an English ice hockey team as a goaltender.
Giourkas Seitaridis (Greece)
The former right back is a two-time Super League winner in Greece.
Seitaridis does a lot of charity work in his home nation.
In his spare time he enjoys off road motorbiking.
Traianos Dellas (Greece)
Dellas was a key part of the Greek defence.
Since retiring the former defender has had several jobs in management.
He is currently the manager of Panetolikos FC.
Ricardo Carvalho (Portugal)
The former defender has won top tier titles in Portugal, Spain and England.
Most recently he was assistant manager to Andre Villas-Boas at Marseille.
He is looking to move into management at some point, after gaining more knowledge.
Gianluca Zambrotta (Italy)
The Italian has previously done a lot of media work.
Zambrotta has also had a few spells in management, while more recently working as assistant manager at Jiangsu Suning in the Chinese Super League.
In 2014, the defender opened a fitness complex called Eracle Sports Centre.
The Midfielder was known for his incredible stamina and powerful shot.
He is currently a FIFA and UEFA ambassador.
He also works for Canal 11, which is a Portuguese football show.
In his spare time, Maniche is a wine entrepreneur.
Pavel Nedvěd (Czech Republic)
The Czech came into the competition having been named European Footballer of the Year in 2003.
Nedvěd is currently a vice president at former club Juventus.
In his spare time the former midfielder can be found running marathons.
Theodoros Zagorakis (Greece)
Zagorakis captained his nation during their incredible underdog story.
As well as lifting the trophy at the end of the tournament the Greek also picked up the Player of the Tournament award.
Zagorakis is now working in politics and is a Member of European Parliament.
Cristian Ronaldo (Portugal)
Having shone in this competition at 18 years old, Ronaldo is the only player in this eleven that is still currently playing.
With five Ballon d’Or’s, Ronaldo is one of the greatest players the game has ever seen.
As well as his fantastic footballing ability, Ronaldo has trained extremely hard and is an all-round athlete.
The Portuguese attacker is currently at Juventus where he has won two Serie-A titles and two Supercoppa Italiana’s.
Milan Baroš (Czech Republic)
With five goals, Baroš was the competitions top goalscorer.
The only game that the former striker failed to score was the only game is side did not win, the semi-final against Greece.
He is Czech Republic’s second top goalscorer behind the giant Jan Koller.
Baroš was part of the Liverpool side who fantastically came back from 3-0 down to beat AC Milan in the Champions League final.
Wayne Rooney (England)
At this tournament we really got to see what Rooney was about.
Although only 18 years old, the Englishman put in three man-of-the-match performances.
However, unfortunately for England their in-form teenager hobbled of the pitch in their quarter-final match against Portugal with a broken foot.
Rooney would go on to become Manchester United and England’s all-time leading goalscorer.
He is currently manager of Derby County having taken over from Phillip Cocu.
The players in this eleven brought incredible joy to our television screens.
Euro 2004 was undoubtably one of the best competitions there has been. It really did epitomise what International football is all about.