Monday, November 24, 2014

Southeast Europe (Turkey, Greece and Albania) All-time best XI

Turkey vs Greece

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

This is my all-time 23-member team for Southeast Europe (Balkan Peninsula), excluding the former republics of Yugoslavia, Romania and Bulgaria. I have done a separated entries for them. I also did an all-time team for GreeceTurkey and an all-team form the former republics of Yugoslavia, excluding Serbia and Croatia.

Basically, this team consisted of three national team, namely Greece, Turkey and Albania.

At the UEFA Euro 1980 Greece made their first appearance in a major tournament and although they did not make it through the group stage, their qualification to the then eight-team tournament gave them a position in the top eight European football nations that year. Greece had to wait until 1994 to experience their first FIFA World Cup participation, but after an undefeated qualifying run they produced a poor performance in the final tournament, losing all three group matches without scoring.

The UEFA Euro 2004 marked a high point in Greece's football history when they were crowned European champions, in only their second participation in the tournament, against all the odds. The Greeks, dismissed as rank outsiders before the tournament, defeated some of the favourites in the competition including defending European champions France and hosts Portugal, with Greece beating the latter in both the opening game of the tournament and again in the final.
Greece Euro 2004 Champion
Albania was the winner of the 1946 Balkan Cup and the 2000 Malta Rothmans International Tournament, but had never participated in any major UEFA or FIFA tournament until 2016.

At Euro 2016, Albania made its first debut at a major men's football tournament. Albania scored their first ever goal in a major tournament and secured their first ever win in a European Championship, when they beat Romania on 19 June 2016.

Turkey has qualified three times for the FIFA World Cup, in 1950, 1954, and 2002, although they withdrew from the 1950 event. Turkey has also qualified four times for the UEFA European Championship, in 1996, 2000, 2008, and 2016. They have reached the semi-finals of three major tournaments: the 2002 World Cup, the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup, and Euro 2008. In the 2000, they were known for their Golden Generation. They finished third at the World Cup Finals in 2002.
Turkey 2002

GK: Nikos Sarganis (Greece)
In 1980, he shocked Greek football by leading Kastoria to victory in the Greek Cup.  He joined Olympiakos in 1980 and he left his for rival Panathinaikos in 1985.  In 1988, he helped them to win the Greek Cup by saving two penalties and scroing one himself against his old club Olymoakos during the penalty shootout. He was capped 48 times.

He is regarded among the best Greek goalkeepers of all time having been awarded the most caps in the national team and playing an integral part in the UEFA Euro 2004 triumph.  He was the starting Greek keeper during the European Championship in 2004, where he was also voted goalkeeper of the Euro 2004 All Star team.  He played with both Olympiakos and Panathinaikos. 

GK:  Rustu Recber (Turkey)
Rüştü had got a key role in the success of the Turkish national squad, and it was at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, where Turkey finished third, that his performances saw him selected for the tournament's all-star team. He is Turkey's record appearance holder, having earned 120 caps.  During his professional career, he played as a goalkeeper for Antalyaspor, Fenerbahçe, Barcelona and Beşiktaş.
Rustu Recber
CB/RB:  Giourkas Seitaridis (Greece)
Giourkas Seitaridis was part of their team which won Euro 2004, for which he was voted into the Team of the Tournament.  He was capped 72 times.  He also went to the World Cup Finals in 2010 an Euro 2008. He moved to Porto during the tournament. He  last played in 2013 for Greek Superleague side Panathinaikos, having played previously at PAS Giannina, Porto, Dynamo Moscow and Atlético Madrid.

RB: Ümit Davala (Turkey)
Born in Germany, he played mainly in Turkey before joining Galatasaray in 1996. He was a part of their UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup winning team in 2000.  He also had stints with both AC Milan and Inter Milan, but never played a single game for Inter Milan.  He was capped 41 times. He was in the squad of Euro 2000 and the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

CB: Traianos Dellas (Greece)
He impressed during Greece's victory at the European Championship in 2004, during which he became the only player to score a silver goal in an international football match. He earned the nickname 'the Colossus of Rhodes'.  He played for many clubs.  In Greece, he was associated with AEK Athens.

CB: Stelios Manolas (Greece)
Stelios Manolas was capped 71 times by Greece, as well as being one of only a few Greek footballers to have played his entire professional career for a single club - AEK Athens FC, where he won 4 league titles. He was considered the greatest Greek defender ever.  He played at the World Cup Finals in 1994.

CB: Basri Dirimlili (Turkey)
Basri Dirimlili played 23 times for Turkey. He was a member of Turkey's World Cup team in 1954.  He also went to the 1952 Olympic Games. He was regarded among the greatest Turkish defender. Dirimlili began playing football for Eskişehir Demirspor. He transferred to Fenerbahçe in 1951, where he played until 1953.

SW: Fatih Terim (Turkey) 
He played for Turkey 51 times between 1974 and 1985 and was the national team captain for 35 international games, setting the national record in both categories at that time. He joined Galatasaray in 1974 and ended his playing career in 1985.  He was also their captain, but he never won the league title.  Today, he is better for being the greatest coach ever from Turkey.

Konstantinos Iosifidis spent his entire career with a single club. He is the only player in PAOK FC history that has won 4 titles, being part of the squad that won 2 cups in 1972 and 1974, and the 1976 and 1985 Greek league, being also captain in the latter.  He participated in UEFA European Championship in 1980.

LB: Grigoris Georgatos (Greece)
He spent most of his career with Olympiakos, but also played in Italy for Inter Milan and for AEK Athens.  Georgatos also earned 35 caps and scored 3 goals for the Greek national team having debuted on 6 September 1995. He left the national team in 2001 after reported dispute with Otto Rehhagel.  He did play in Euro 2004.
DM: Theodoros Zagorakis (Greece)
Theodoros Zagorakis was the captain of the Greece national team that won the 2004 UEFA European Football Championship and he won Player of the Tournament.  He was at one point Greece all-time cap leader. Professionally, he played for AOK and AEK Arthens in Greece. He also had brief stints in England with Leicester City and in Italy with Bologna.
Theodoros Zagorakis

DM: Emre Belozoglu (Turkey)
In Turkey, he spent most of his career with Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray. His past clubs also included Inter Milan, Newcastle United and Atlético Madrid.  He won the UEFA Cup in 2000 with Galatasaray.  With Inter Milan, he was their player of the year for 2002-2003 season, but his later career with them was affected by injuries. He played with Turkey that went to the semi-finals at the 2002 World Cup and at Euro 2008.
Emre Belozoglu

CM: Yıldıray Baştürk (Turkey)
Born in Germany of Turkish ancestry.  He is best remembered for his most successful years at Leverkusen. He was the playmaker of a great Leverkusen that finished second in the German league, the German Cup and the 2002 Champions League Final.  That same year, he led Turkey to the semi-final of the WC in Japan/Korea. He also played  Wattenscheid 09, VfL Bochum, Hertha BSC, VfB Stuttgart and English club Blackburn Rovers.

RM/CM:  Hamit Altıntop (Turkey)
Born in Germany, Hamit Altıntop is a versatile player who can play in various positions.  He played for Schalke 04, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Galatasaray.  He had 82 caps between 2004 and 2014.  He helped Turkey to reach the semifinal at the Euro 2008, where he was voted into the all-tournament team. His twin brother Halil also played for Turkey.
Hamit Altıntop
LW: Vassilis Hatzipanagis (Greece)
Born in the USSR of Greek refugees, he played for the Soviet Olympic team.  He was highly rated in the Soviet Union. He returned to Greece in 1976, where he played Greece for one friendly march.  He was ineligible to play for Greece due to his selection to the Soviet youth team.  However, he was considered to be Greece's greatest player and was elected as Greece's UEFA Jubilee Player.

SS: Giorgos Sideris (Greece)
He is considered one of the greatest forwards in Olympiakos and Greek football history.  He finished second as the European Golden Boot in 1969.  He was the first Greek player to play for another European team outside Greece. In 1970, he transferred to Belgium's Royal Antwerp FC, but rejoined Olympiakos in 1972. For the national team, he was only capped 28 times, but he managed to score 14 goals.

SS: Lefter Küçükandonyadis (Turkey)
He is regarded as one of the greatest footballers to play for Fenerbahçe and Turkey. He was one of the first Turkish footballers to play abroad, playing during 1951–1953 for Fiorentina in Italy and OGC Nice in France. He scored 22 goals for the national team and was the top scorer for Turkey until overtaken by Hakan Şükür. He was the first Turkish football player to receive the "Golden Honor medal", from the Turkish Football Federation, for having played for the National Selection in 50 international matches.

FW: Panajot Pano (Albania)
Panajot Pano was considered to be Albania's greatest player and was elected as its UEFA Jubilee Player. From the Greek ethnicity, Pano started with SK Tirana in 1957.  From 1960 to 1975, he played for Partizani Tirana. In 2009, he received the order Honor of the Nation from the government of Albania.  It was the first time a footballer received that order.
Panajot Pano
ST: Hakan Sukur (Turkey)
Nicknamed the "Bull of the Bosphorus". He is the all-time leading scorer for Turkey.  He represented Turkey at UEFA Euro 1996 , Euro 2000  and the 2002 FIFA World Cup.  He helped Galatasaray to win the first European trophy for a Turkish club when it won the UEFA Cup in 1999.

ST: Angelos Charisteas (Greece)
Angelos Charisteas was capped 88 times by Greece, scoring 25 goals. He was a member of the UEFA Euro 2004 winning team, scoring three goals, including the winning goal in the final against Portugal. He also represented Greece in Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.  At club level he has played for Aris Thessaloniki, Werder Bremen, Ajax, Feyenoord, Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke 04, Arles-Avignon and Al Nassr.
Angelos Charisteas 
ST/FW: Nikos Anastopoulos (Greece)
He had over 70 caps between 1977 and 1988.  With 29 goals, he is the all time highest scorer for the Greek national football team.  He was most prominently played professionally for Olympiakos where he won 4 league titles and considered one of their greatest players. He won the Bronze Boot as the third highest scorer in Europe in the 1982–83 season.

ST: Zeki Rıza Sporel (Turkey) 
Zeki Rıza Sporel played and scored in the country's first international match against Romania in 1923. He spent his entire career at Fenerbahçe scoring over 470 goals for them. He began with the club in the 1915-1916 season as a 18 years old. In 19831, he scored 8 goals in a single match that remained the record for most goals in a single match.  His brother was at point the President of the club.

Honorable Mention
GK: Turgay Seren (Turkey), DM: Altin Lala (Albania), DM: Lorik Cana (Albania), ST: Metin Oktay(Turkey), ST: Tanju Colak (Turkey), AM: Mimis Domazos (Greece), FW: Arda Turan (Turkey), LW/ST:  Giorgos Karagounis (Greece), FW: Loro Boriçi (Albania), LW/FW: Thomas Mavros(Greece) 

Squad Explanation 
-- Greece and Turkey have done very well since the turn of the century.  Turkey reached the semifinal of the WC Finals in 2002 and Greece won the European Championship in 2004. Several players were selected just for their performance in those campaigns.  They probably have done more for their countries in those few games than the other players in their lifetime.   
-- Vassilis Hatzipanagis played twice for Greece which qualified him to be on this all-time squad. I have only selected one Albanian for this team.
-- Originally, I did not do all-time teams for Greece and Turkey.  This blog was set to cover the region. Now, I have created Greece and Turkey.  This is basically a combined team for the two countries, plus Panajot Pano of Albania.  

Starting lineup
Formation 4-3-3

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