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Euro Whites: Stelios Giannakopoulos

10 July 2016

Ahead of tonight's Euro 2016 Final, bwfc.co.uk profile a former European Champion who helped Greece stun the continent when on the books of Wanderers back at Euro 2004

On the day of the Euro 2016 Final, bwfc.co.uk's Euro Whites series concludes as we profile a Wanderers fan-favourite who famously won the European Championships during his time at the Reebok Stadium as he helped Greece stun the continent.

STELIOS GIANNAKOPOULOS 
GREECE (1997-2008) 
77 CAPS 12 GOALS 

European Championships: 2 (EURO 2004 AND 2008) 
Best Stage Reached: WINNERS 

Tournament Appearances: 6 
Tournament Goals: 0

A diminutive attacking midfielder with a keen eye for goal, Stelios Giannakopoulos capped an impressive first season with Wanderers by memorably starring for Greece as they became European Champions at Euro 2004. 

The only player to have featured at the European Championships while on the Whites’ books, the popular winger started his career in his homeland with Ethnikos Asteras in the early nineties. 

Working his way up the leagues by signing for Paniliakos in 1993, he helped them win promotion to the Greek top-flight before later signing for Olympiacos in 1996. 

Winning Superleague Greece in his first season with the club, Stelios’ form saw him handed his international debut as a substitute against Cyprus in March 1997. 

Scorer of Olympiacos’ first ever goal in the Champions League proper with a stunning 40-yard lob against FC Porto the following year, his first international strike followed in February 1999 – coming in an international friendly victory over Belgium. 

However, he would feature rarely for Greece as they failed to qualify for the 1998 World Cup, Euro 2000 and the 2002 World Cup despite winning Superleague Greece in each of his seven years with Olympiacos. 

An ever-present in Euro 2004 qualification, Stelios signed for Bolton Wanderers in May 2003 after catching the eye of Sam Allardyce having been named Greek Footballer of the Year that season.

He would score a famous winner for Greece against Spain weeks later as his homeland went on to qualify automatically for the finals. 

Helping the Whites reach the 2004 Carling Cup Final in his first season at the Reebok Stadium, he was included in Greece’s squad for Euro 2004 the following summer.
 

Entering the tournament as underdogs, the midfielder started as Greece opened their campaign with a surprise 2-1 victory over host nation Portugal and a 1-1 draw with Spain, before sitting out their final group game as they lost against Russia. 

Progressing to the knockout stages regardless, Stelios was again unused for Greece’s 1-0 quarter-final victory over reigning European Champions France, before coming off the bench as they beat Czech Republic by the same scoreline to reach the final. 

Facing off against Portugal again, Stelios returned to the starting XI as Angelos Charisteas’ second half header secured a 1-0 win as Greece pulled off one of football’s greatest shocks to be crowned European Champions.


Already a firm fan-favourite with the Reebok Stadium crowd, the midfielder further endeared himself to the club’s supporters after the game as his son joined in Greece’s trophy celebrations sporting Bolton colours for all the world to see.

Helping the Trotters qualify for the UEFA Cup for the first time in the club’s history in 2004/05, he was an ever-present for Greece the following summer at the Confederations Cup as they suffered a group-stage exit after losing to Brazil and Japan and drawing with Mexico. 

Greece’s leading goalscorer with three strikes as they failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup, the midfielder also top-scored for Wanderers with 12 goals during the 2005/06 season, before helping them again qualify for the UEFA Cup the following year. 

Although his appearances were reduced for club and country during his final two seasons with the Trotters, Stelios was included in Greece’s squad for Euro 2008. 

However, it would prove to be a tournament to forget for the reigning European Champions as they gave up their crown with a whimper, as the curtain underwhelmingly came down on the midfielder’s international career. 

Unused for Greece’s opening game as they lost to Sweden, he was brought on as an 80th minute substitute as a 1-0 defeat to Russia saw them knocked out of the competition. 

Stelios was awarded what would prove to be his final cap as an 86th minute substitute in Greece’s final group match as a 2-1 defeat to Spain saw them finish bottom of the group. 


Released by the Whites the same summer, he joined Hull City in September 2008, but made just three appearances for the Tigers before returning to Greece with AE Larissa in January 2009. 

Helping them qualify for the Europa League in his first few months at the club, Stelios left the club in December 2009, while more recently he briefly served as manager of former club Paniliakos.

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