“Everybody will remember, even after 50 years, that I scored the goal which brought Greece the European Championship in 2004. That achievement changed my life forever!” This was the reaction of Angelos Charisteas, in an interview, a couple of years after the Greeks stunned all Europe. And he was right! Why? Well, very simple… Because Charisteas remains an unusual figure for World football. Despite being an attacker which never scored more than nine goals in a season (!) even though played at teams such are Werder Bremen, Ajax, Feyenoord, Nurnberg, Leverkusen or Schalke, Angelos became the man which brought Greece the European title in 2004. A goal in a 1-1 draw in front of Spain, in the second group match was the start. Charisteas continued and netted the only goal of the quarter finals, against France, the defending champion. Finally he ‘flew’ over Portugal’s defense and crushed the host’s joy in the first and only final that they reached at a final tournament. 1-0 and Greece were the champions!
Even now, after eight years, their achievement looks incredible. It lasted, but Charisteas didn’t, because since this summer, the striker doesn’t play everywhere. All though he’s only 32 years old! Born on 9th of February 1980, he made his professional debut at Aris Thessaloniki, from where he left and played at the teams mentioned above. He never impressed fully, but added in his CV a couple of trophies: the Bundesliga and German Cup with Werder Bremen in 2004, the Dutch Cup and Super Cup alongside Ajax in 2005 and the DFB Pokal again, in 2011, this time together with Schalke. Of course, none of these can compare with the UEFA European Championship. Taking it in consideration, we shall say that Charisteas is the best striker from the history of his country. But from a point of view he isn’t! Scoring 25 goals in 88 matches, since 2001, Angelos is only the second top scorer from the history of Greece, after Nikos Anostopoulos who netted 29.
OK, so he’s not the best top scorer, but he surely has a record which is and will remain very tough to reach. Charisteas scored 25 goals for the national team and most of them remain very important. In fact, 20 were netted in official matches! Despite those three from EURO 2004 he also scored one at EURO 2008 and the rest in the preliminaries of final tournaments. Starting with World Cup 2002 and ending with EURO 2012! So, he became one of the few European players which scored in six consecutive qualification campaigns (2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012)! He still has time for a seven in a row, as the World Cup 2014 preliminaries are in progress, but judging his actual situation, it’s unlikely he will reach the national team too quickly. But after all, who knows? I don’t think he forgot playing football and, what’s more important, I’m sure that he remembers very well how to score a crucial goal.