Giorgios Karagounis: The Little Captain
Greek midfielder hopes to steer Pirate Ship on another impossible adventure
Born: March 6, 1977, in Pyrgos, Greece
Clubs played for: Karagounis established himself at Panathinaikos before moving to Inter Milan in 2003. He was a bit player at the San Siro but became a fan favourite because of his impressive work rate. Two moderately successful seasons at Benefica followed before the Greek international returned to Panathinaikos and led Prasinoi (The Greens) to the 2009-2010 league championship, the club's first since 2004.
International career: The little midfielder, standing at five-foot-seven, has been a massive presence in Greece's midfield for over a decade. Under Otto Rehhagel, Karagounis is the conduit between the defence and the offence. Greece employ a tight structure, and Karagounis makes sure the Pirate Ship keeps its shape.
Why is he so special? Karagounis is tenacious and stubborn and never gives up a fight for the ball, even if it means he'll incur the referee's wrath. What's more, the Greek captain leads by example in other more admirable ways by either executing a piercing pass or scoring.
His most famous moment: Seven minutes into Euro 2004, Karagounins scored Greece's first goal of the tournament. From then on, the Pirate Ship set sail toward an improbable championship run.
He said it: "We [Greece] can't wait for the World Cup to start. Nobody expected us to do anything at the Euro in 2004, and we went out and won it."
What they're saying about him: "He's a good player" — Massimo Moratti, Inter Milan president
An interesting fact: Many eyebrows were raised when Karagounis signed with Benefica in 2005 – the Euro 2004 final between Greece and Portugal was still an open wound that hurt the whole Iberian nation. The midfielder tried to dispel any awkward tension with a pledge of allegiance: "I [have come] to a good team. I am ready and proud to be playing here."