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Stelios Giannakopoulos counting on fans to help raise Greece's team

Stelios Giannakopoulos counting on fans to help raise Greece's team

Facing a statue of Mozart, the Salzburg Municipal Choir practiced singing Greece's national anthem _ all the words sung clearly in Greek and not a note out of place.
A lone Greek fan shouted out in appreciation, catching the attention of workers who were putting up an outdoor Greek food stand.
Across town, scenes from Greece's success at the 2004 European Championship final played on a giant video screen played over and over, beside empty stalls opened by national team sponsors.
Greek fans haven't got here yet, but players are counting on their boisterous support at Euro 2008.
"It's like having a 12th player ... When Greek fans get behind the team, that helps us a lot," said midfielder Stelios Giannakopoulos, who was part of the winning team four years ago.
Traveling Greek fans grew steadily in numbers and enthusiasm at the Portugal tournament, following their team in disbelief as Greece advanced through the knockout stages to eventually beat the hosts in the final.
"We hope to have the same atmosphere at this tournament," Giannakopoulos said. "It's very important for us."
At Euro 2008, Greece will play all three of its Group D games in Salzburg, taking on Sweden, Russia and Spain at the 30,000-seat Wals-Siezenheim Stadium. Successive ticket sales in Greece have sold out within hours.
The team arrived in Austria on Tuesday in a gloomy mood, after losing a warm-up game to Hungary 3-2 and being held by Armenia 0-0.
Greeks from neighboring Germany have joined local school children in lining up to watch team practices outside Salzburg. At one training session, a group of about 20 Greeks from Austria handed the team a poster with players dressed as Spartan warriors, crouching in front of the ancient Acropolis.
Near the team's lakeside hotel, many locals have hung Greek flags from their windows.
"The welcome here has been fantastic," Giannakopoulos said. "That helps us with our preparations ... We have nothing but positive impressions here."


Updated : 2021-02-27 15:37 GMT+08:00