Greece and their wily German coach Otto Rehhagel rewrote the football history books in the summer of 2004 with their sensational European Championship triumph in Portugal. Dismissed as rank outsiders before the tournament, the Greek dream gathered momentum as some of the sport's big names, including dethroned champions France, Czech Republic and finally hosts Portugal, succumbed to them.
Rehhagel, widely acclaimed for plotting the path to glory, thanked his heroes by turning down a lucrative offer from the German Football Association (DFB) to take the vacant helm in his home country, committing himself instead to lead his side to the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ finals.
The Greeks had last appeared at the world finals in 1994 but packed their bags for home after a disastrous campaign in which they scored no goals and earned no points. They failed to qualify in 1998 and 2002, missing out on a play-off spot for France 1998 by a single point.
According to coach Otto Rehhagel, their failure to progress to Germany 2006 "made the team stronger". Greece set about proving this in the qualifiers for UEFA EURO 2008. Despite facing stiff competition from Turkey, Norway and Bosnia-Herzegovina, the holders made sure that they would be able to defend the title which they won in Portugal by qualifying for the forthcoming tournament in Austria and Switzerland.
However, the Greek side could not fulfil the expectations at all. With losses against Sweden (0-2), Russia (0-1) and new European champions Spain (1-2), Rehhagel's side had to head for home after the UEFA EURO 2008 group stage.
Now they will set about securing their ticket for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. "King Otto", who took over the reins in August 2001, will again be in charge of the campaign, making him the longest-serving coach in the history of the Greek national team.