Georgios Samaras says Greece’s qualification for the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 is a much-needed boost for the struggling country.
Fernando Santos’ men defeated Russia 1-0 on Saturday, courtesy of a first-half strike by captain Giorgos Karagounis, to finish second behind Czech Republic in Group A.
And Samaras praised his side’s determination, dedicating the triumph to his compatriots during a time in which Greece is wracked by debt and political uncertainty.
“It’s great pleasure for us that we gave happiness to all the Greek people, who are struggling. I am proud of this,” he told reporters.
“This was the first game in which we played as a team. We never let the Russians create opportunities. We might have looked tired during the game, but after we scored we wouldn’t let the Russians equalise.
“I do not care who we are going to face in the quarter-finals. We should rest now.”
Defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos echoed his team-mate’s sentiments, but also insisted his team need to focus on their next challenge.
“We have yet to realize what happened. Our performance was huge and we defeated a big team like Russia,” he said.
“Now we should focus on our next game. We gave answers to those who never truly had faith (in) us.”