Giorgos Karagounis (Born 6 March 1977) is a former Greek professional footballer.In his club career he has played for Panathinaikos, Apollon Smyrni, Internazionale, Benfica and Fulham. Internationally, Karagounis represented the Greece national team between 1999 and 2014. He was a member of the Euro 2004 winning squad. Also, represented Greece in Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup, Euro 2012 and the 2014 World Cup. With 139 appearances, he is the most capped player in the history of the Greek national team.
Panathinaikos and Apollon Smyrni
Giorgos Karagounis began career as a professional footballer in 1996 when he signed on loan for Apollon Smyrnis from Panathinaikos. In his first couple of years with the Athens-based club, he already showed signs of his talent as a very energetic player in the centre of midfield who could also score goals. After two seasons with Apollon he returned to his parent club Panathinaikos in 1998, the club where he learned his trade. At Panathinaikos he became a fixture in the first team for the next five years. Although Panathinaikos did not win the Alpha Ethniki title during his spell. Due to several controversial reasons, including a ball-fixing scandal. The team was always a title contender, and had good runs in both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Cup, with Karagounis scoring important goals for the team.
He scored six times in 24 league games during his first season with the Greens, and in the 2000–01. In the UEFA Champions League appeared in all 12 of Panathanaikos’ games, scoring a memorable goal from a direct free-kick against Manchester United at Old Trafford. The following season, at the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium. He scored a wonderful goal against Arsenal, beating David Seaman with a header. In helping his team reach the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League.
Karagounis left Panathinaikos and Greece to move to Italy to sign for Italian Serie A club Inter Milan in the summer of 2003. During his first season with Inter. He wasn’t a regular started in the league, mainly appearing in European and domestic Cup matches. At the end of his first season in Italy, despite Karagounis spending a lot of time on the bench. Inter could only finish a disappointing 4th with city Rivals Milan winning the title. He still did enough to be called up to represent Greece at the 2004 UEFA European Championship in Portugal.
After helping Greece win UEFA Euro 2004, he returned to Italy for the 2004–05 season. Under Roberto Mancini, he was again mainly used in European and domestic Cup ties, rather than in league games. He won the 2005 Coppa Italia, helping Inter beat Roma in the final. At the end of the 2004–05 season, Inter Milan finished third in the league with Juventus winning the title, and reached the quarter finalists of the Champions League. Getting knocked out by Italian and City rivals AC Milan.
In 2005, he moved to Portugal to sign a three-year contract with Benfica. Who are based at the Estádio da Luz. The stadium where he won the Euro 2004 final with Greece.
Karagounis scored a couple of memorable long-range goals while in Portugal, against Shakhtar Donetsk, and a free-kick against Desportivo das Aves.
Karagounis’ first season at Benfica was challenging, as he had difficulty establishing himself as a first-team regular. However, he became a regular starter in his second season, putting in some excellent performances and becoming a fan favourite. Who were by this time managed by Fernando Santos, who already knew Karagounis from Panathinaikos. After a successful stint with Benfica, Karagounis seemed ready to return to play in Greece, again for Panathinaikos.
He returned to Estádio da Luz to play for a Benfica All-Stars team in a charity match against a team that included Zidane and Ronaldo in 2010.
Karagounis captained Greece’s entry to the 1998 UEFA Under-21 Championship, and the team came very close to winning, losing 1–0 to Spain in the final. After that, he soon became a regular on the national team. He made his first full international appearance against El Salvador in 1999 and went on to appear in qualifying for the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
UEFA Euro 2004 & Beyond
The highlight of his international career was undoubtedly winning the European championship for Greece in Euro 2004. He was a key player for Greece and famously scored the first goal of the tournament against Portugal. A stunning long range shot that shocked the hosts and gave Greece the confidence they needed to win the game and progress in the tournament. After winning Euro 2004, Karagounis continued to play on a regular basis for Greece in the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup. The 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign, and the Euro 2008 finals. On 26 March 2008, Karagounis participated in a Greece-Portugal friendly match in Düsseldorf, Germany. This proved to be somewhat of a highlight of his international career as he scored two almost identical well-placed free-kicks to give Greece a 2–1 victory.
Giorgios Karagounis as a captain of Greece contributed to the qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. As captain, he led the Greek National team to its first win in a World Cup match with a 2–1 win against Nigeria. On 8 October 2010, against Latvia, Karagounis reached 100 appearances for the Greek national team equaling the record of his Euro 2004 winning ex-teammate Angelos Basinas. On 12 October 2010 Karagounis made his 101’st appearance. Becoming the second most capped player in Greek footballing history behind Theodoros Zagorakis and scoring his seventh goal in the victory against the Israel national team. 7 October 2011, Karagounis was awarded by Theodoros Zagorakis and Angelos Basinas for reaching 111 appearances with the Greek National Team. The awarding ceremony took place at Karaiskakis stadium before the kickoff of a football match against Croatia.
UEFA Euro 2012
On 8 June 2012, Poland played with Greece on the opening day of Euro 2012. Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny fouled Greek international Dimitris Salpingidis, resulting in a red card for Szczęsny. Karagounis took the penalty against substitute goalkeeper Przemysław Tytoń who saved his penalty.
On 16 June 2012, Karagounis started the final game of Group A against Russia. Making him their joint most capped player with 120 caps together with Theodoros Zagorakis who held the record of national team appearances at the time. He scored the only goal of the game on the stroke of half time. This meant Greece qualified for the next stage of the competition. The second half was slightly less dramatic but had its share of talking points. Coming off a significant goal, Karagounis made a mad dash to the Russian box. The captain looked like he was going to score another but his leg caught by a Russian defender. Karagounis was adamant that he had earned a penalty but the ref was hardly impressed and booked him for simulation. Karagounis received his second yellow card of the tournament causing him to miss the quarterfinals.
Qualifying for World Cup 2014 and Record
On 12 October 2012, he played in the second half in the match against Bosnia and Herzegovina in the qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, making the 121st appearance for his country. With this game, he set a new record of most caps for the Greece national football team. He also scored a great free-kick goal against the Liechtenstein national football team. Karagounis played another inspiring and energetic role throughout the entire qualifying campaign and helping boost his beloved country reach their 3rd World Cup finals appearance.
Despite the waning number of starts for the 37-year-old, his influence is still huge in the Greek camp and Fernando Santos, who worked with the midfielder at Benfica, clearly holds him in high regard due to the sureness the veteran exudes. “We have confidence and know we can beat any opponent,” Karagounis said during World Cup qualifying. Karagounis played the entire 120 minutes of the match between Costa Rica and Greece for the World Cup 2014, consisting of 90 minutes of regular time and 30 minutes of extra time.
Greece captain Giorgos Karagounis retired from international football Sunday after his country’s World Cup elimination in a penalty shootout loss to Costa Rica national football team. Karagounis leaves as Greece’s most capped player with 139 appearances over 15 years since making his debut in 1999. Greece’s goal-scorer on Sunday, defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos, paid tribute to his departing leader. “He’s written his own story … he’s the record holder (of caps), he’s given everything for the team and had to make concessions for it,” Papastathopoulos said. “He’s left us a legacy for the future. He shouldn’t worry.”
Coppa Italia: 2004–05
Superleague Greece: 2009–10
Greek Cup: 2009–10
European Championship: 2004
European Under-21 Championship: Runner-up 1998
Tags: Greek-Cup, Greece, European-Championship, Panathinaikos, Coppa-Italia, Inter-Milan, Internazionale, World-Cup-2014, Euro-2012, Euro-2004, Benfica