Konstantinos Katsouranis will be celebrating his 31st birthday during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ and is one of the most experienced hands in what is a battle-hardened Greece side. The steely holding midfielder has been a central plank in Otto Rehhagel’s plans ever since his first call-up in 2003 and was a mainstay of the team that shocked Europe at UEFA EURO 2004.
He also represented his country at the FIFA Confederations Cup Germany 2005 and was an ever-present in the team that missed out on qualification to the world finals in Germany a year later.
Rehhagel showed his unshakeable faith in Katsouranis during Greece’s failed attempt to defend their continental crown in Austria and Switzerland in 2008, when the tournament holders returned home after losing all three of their group games.
Katsouranis has also been a consistent performer at club level, scoring a significant amount of goals despite occupying a holding role in midfield. He revealed that side of his game once more in the recently concluded league season in Greece, scoring eight goals in the first half of the campaign to spur Panathinaikos’s successful title push.
His career began back in 1996 with Panachaiki, based in his home city of Patras, helping them to promotion to the Greek top flight before departing in 2002.
Although Panathinaikos and Olympiakos were both interested in his services, it was AEK Athens who won his signature.
He was named Greece’s Player of the Year in 2005 and continued to impress the following year when AEK finished league runners-up to claim a place in the UEFA Champions League. It was at that point that Katsouranis decided to follow AEK coach Fernando Santos to Benfica, where he would team up with his compatriot Giorgios Karagounis.
Just as he had done at his previous clubs, Katsouranis became Benfica’s midfield linchpin, occasionally taking over the captaincy and chipping in with his customary quota of valuable goals. It came as no surprise when he was named the club’s Player of the Year in 2009, when he also added a Portuguese cup triumph to his roll of honours.
He then moved back Greece to join Panathinaikos, the club he had supported all his life.
A fearless and shrewd competitor, the vastly experienced Katsouranis will have a big part to play for Greece at South Africa 2010, when they will attempt to put their dismal European title defence firmly behind them.