Greece coach Otto Rehhagel said his side’s 1-0 defeat of Portugal in the Euro 2004 final will go down in the history books.

“It was an unusual achievement for Greek football and especially for European football,” he said.

“We took advantage of our chances. The opponent was technically better than us but we took advantage of our chances. We should have made it 2-0.

“The Greeks have made football history. It’s a sensation.”

Asked to explain Greece’s remarkable triumph, Rehhagel, suggested that the gap between the traditional superpowers and the rest had narrowed.

“The differences between the big teams and the so-called smaller teams have become smaller,” he said.

“There are always surprises. Remember North Korea beat Italy in the 1966 World Cup in England. This time we are the surprise.

“Someone said we will be like gods in Greece after this. I know Greeks exaggerate both in joy and in sadness but we have no objections if the fans wish to welcome us back at the airport.”

“I would like to congratulate my team and everybody involved. We have developed this team for three years and now you see the result.

“It was a great achievement for us to qualify. We were only interested in the first game but we carried on, had a terrific tournament and ended as champions.”

Jubilant match-winner Angelos Charisteas added: “We’re the champions of Europe. We’re the best team in Europe and we deserved it.

“It’s very significant. I’m very happy and very moved. I call on all Greeks to rejoice and celebrate.

“This is a unique moment, which many of us may never experience again.

“We came up against a very strong Portugal side but won – it’s the best moment of my career.”

Greece captain Theo Zagorakis dedicated his man-of-the-match award to his team-mates.

“I want to congratulate the players. We proved once again that the Greek soul is, and always will be, our strength.

“It is the greatest gift that God ever gave us.

“We are going to take this cup to Greek people all over the world. I think we have given them something more than joy.

“We have given them a great pride, which they will be able to carry with them for the rest of their lives.”