Giorgos Karagounis

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"Karagounis" redirects here. For the midfielder of PEC Zwolle, see Thanasis Karagounis.
Giorgos Karagounis
Karagounis 2008.jpg
Karagounis playing for Greece in 2008
Personal information
Full name Georgios Karagounis[1]
Date of birth (1977-03-06) 6 March 1977 (age 38)
Place of birth Pyrgos, Greece
Height 1.76 m (5 ft 9 12 in)
Playing position Midfielder
Youth career
1993–1996 Panathinaikos
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1996–2003 Panathinaikos 118 (25)
1996–1998 Apollon Smyrni (loan) 55 (9)
2003–2005 Internazionale 21 (0)
2005–2007 Benfica 45 (3)
2007–2012 Panathinaikos 133 (16)
2012–2014 Fulham 39 (1)
Total 411 (54)
National team
1996–1999 Greece U21 39 (11)
1999–2014 Greece 139 (10)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 20:56, 23 May 2014 (UTC).
† Appearances (goals)

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 01:02, 30 June 2014 (UTC)

Georgios "Giorgos" Karagounis (Greek: Γιώργος Καραγκούνης; born 6 March 1977) is a Greek former professional footballer.

In his club career he has played for Panathinaikos, 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, and 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.

Club career[edit]

Panathinaikos and Apollon Smyrni (loan)[edit]

Giorgos Karagounis officially began his Professional Footballing Career 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 supreme talent as he was a very energetic player in the centre of midfield and was a very regular Goalscorer with the club. After his first two seasons of his professional career with Apollon he then returned to Greek giants Panathinaikos in 1998 the club where he learned his trade. At Panathinaikos he was a fixture in the senior team for the next five years. Although Panathinaikos did not win an Alpha Ethniki title during these years, due to several contreversial reasons,[2] the team was always a contender, and it had good runs in the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Cup, with Karagounis scoring crucial goals for the team. He scored six times in 24 league games in his first ever season with the Greens and in 2000–01, he appeared in all 12 of Panathanaikos' UEFA Champions League games, scoring a memorable goal from a direct free-kick against Manchester United at Old Trafford.[3] The following season, at the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium, he scored a wonderful goal against Arsenal, beating David Seaman by head and bringing his team to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League.[4]


After the first seven years of his professional footballing career, Karagounis moved overseas for the first time when he 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 irregularly appeared for the club during the 2003–04 Top Division League season, mainly appearing in European (UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup) and Domestic Cup matches. At the end of his first season in Italy and overseas, he wasn't a prominent figure for Inter in the league, who finished in a disappointing 4th place and 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 where he made his mark. After becoming a Greek champion of UEFA Euro 2004 he returned to Italy for the 2004–05 season under many expectations from himself and Inter supporters to be playing regularly for Inter Milan in the league, but he again played irregularly in the Serie A under Roberto Mancini, again just mainly playing in European and the Domestic Cup. He won the Coppa Italia in the 2005 Final against AS Roma, who contained fellow Greek international teammate Traianos Dellas. At the end of the 2004–05 season, Inter Milan finished in third in the league with Juventus winning the title and finished quarter finalists in the UEFA Champions League, getting knocked out by Italian and City rivals AC Milan.


In 2005, he moved to Portugal to play for Benfica[5] based at the Estádio da Luz, precisely the same stadium where he won the Euro 2004 final for Greece. Karagounis stated, "I like Benfica. It's such a big club and I am honoured that they have great faith in me. I'm sure that my fellow Greeks are happy about my move here at Benfica." He will wear the jersey with the No. 10, since its last owner, ex-Olympiakos player Zlatko Zahovič has retired. The marathon negotiations (lasted almost seven months) with the Portugal giants came to an end as the Greek midfielder was formally presented by the " Eagles of Lisbon " after signing a three-year contract. Moreover, Karagounis stated: " I'll be ready for the match against Sporting Clube de Portugal on September,10. I know that I came in a big club. Benfica has won the UEFA Champions League and enjoys everyone's respect. I came here to win titles ," and seemed delighted to return to the Estádio da Luz, the stadium where he lived the greatest moment of his career by winning the UEFA Euro 2004.[6]

Karagounis did score some great long-range goals while in Portugal, like the magnificent chip shot from the 18-yard line[7] against Shakhtar Donetsk or the amazing free-kick at home against Desportivo das Aves.[8]

Karagounis' first season at Benfica was rough, as the Greek had trouble establishing himself as a key player. However, he became a regular starter in his second season at the club, producing some excellent performances and becoming a fan favourite, this time managed by Fernando Santos, who already knew Karagounis from Panathinaikos. Now, after a good two-year stay 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 Zidane and Ronaldo friends, in 2010.[9]


Allegedly, the player's family was not able to adapt to life in Lisbon and wished to move away from Portugal. Karagounis' contract with the Portuguese outfit was due to expire in July 2008, but the player and his manager negotiated his immediate departure.[10] After his release from Benfica in the summer of 2007, Karagounis immediately returned to Greece and returned to Panathinaikos, signing for the club for the next three years.[10] He quickly re-established himself with the team again scoring key goals in crucial games especially in Europe, in particular a wonderful volley against Werder Bremen.

Despite the familiarity at the club, his stay with Benfica was short-lived as a return home with Panathinaikos was next up for him. With his acquisition by the Athenians regarded as the start of a new era at the club, Karagounis emerged not only as leading figure on the club level, but for Greece as well. He established himself as leader of the national team and has filled the void in the squad that came with the retirement of captain Theodoros Zagorakis. Karagounis’ grit and dedication continued to give for Panathinaikos a definitive edge as his influential qualities had allowed Panathinaikos to make successful strides in Europe.[11] On 3 September 2009, Karagounis extended his stay until 2012 and stated that he wanted to end his career at the club.[12] As captain of the team of Athens he won his second Super League (Greek league) and the Greek Cup. Additionally, he was the only scorer in the rally of his club in the UEFA Europa League 2009/10, in an away game against FC Dinamo București. A 79th-minute strike by Giorgos Karagounis secured Panathinaikos Europa League points after Claudiu Niculescu missed a penalty two minutes from time for the hosts in Group F.[13]


Giorgos Karagounis playing for Fulham in May 2013

On 11 September 2012, Karagounis again left Panathinaikos to move overseas again, this time to England where he joined Fulham on a free transfer until the end of the season after being released by Panathinaikos.[14] Giorgios Karagounis became the eighth Greek player that won Euro 2004 to play in the Premier League, after Nikos Dabizas, Stelios Giannakopoulos, Vassilios Lakis, Theodoros Zagorakis, Angelos Basinas and Kostas Chalkias. Speaking at Fulham’s Motspur Park Training Ground, Karagounis said: “I’m delighted to have signed for Fulham Football Club and I am excited by a new challenge in England and the Barclays Premier League. I’m looking forward to working under Martin Jol and playing alongside some fantastic players at this Club.” Fulham Manager Martin Jol added: “Giorgos Karagounis has a wealth of club and international experience and I’m happy that he’s joined us for this season. He’s been an influential player for his club sides and is a renowned player in world football as he’s about to become the most-capped player for Greece. He brings many certain qualities to our squad.” [15]

He officially made his debut for the club in the Premier League on 29 September 2012, against Manchester City at Craven Cottage, coming on in the 81st minute to replace Chris Baird.[16] Karagounis played the full 90 minutes for the first ever time for Fulham in the Premier League in their 4–0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield. Karagounis scored his first ever goal for Fulham on 5 January 2013 in the FA Cup against Blackpool in the 80th minute, with a 'stunning 25-yard half-volley' which went in off the underside of the crossbar, equalising the goal of Ludovic Sylvestre and ending the game 1–1. This meant the two teams would face again and Battle again in a replay at Bloomfield Road.[17] On 12 January 2013 one week after his goal in the FA Cup, he scored his first goal in the Premier League against Wigan Athletic in the 22nd minute of the first half.[18]

Karagounis was one of twelve players released by Fulham at the end of the 2012–13 Premier League season.[19] On July 2013, he has reportedly declined the opportunity to return to Greek football with former club Panathinaikos and now appears to be on the verge of signing an extension with Premier League side Fulham, according to reports. In what is a dramatic twist in the transfer saga, Karagounis is said to be on the verge of signing another one-year contract at Fulham despite being confirmed as released by the club back in June. It appears that Fulham have elected to keep manager Martin Jol in the club’s hot seat and the Dutch tactician is keen on keeping Karagounis in the English capital for another season. Karagounis, who emerged as a cult hero at Fulham since his arrival last summer, met with representatives from both Panathinaikos and Melbourne Victory in recent weeks as his one-year stint English football appeared over. Meanwhile, back in Greece, Karagounis’ exchanges with Panathinaikos officials has reportedly gone cordially with the Greek international giving fair notice to the Athens club that his main intention is to remain playing abroad. [20]

Eventually, on 9 July 2013 Karagounis signed a new 1-year contract extension which keeps him at Fulham until summer 2014.[21] The London side have officially announced the new deal, which comes in the wake of Karagounis’ decision not to move back to Panathinaikos. " The Club is delighted to confirm that Giorgos Karagounis has signed a new one-year contract with Fulham that will keep him at Craven Cottage until 30th June 2014. His work rate and passion on the pitch made him a firm fans’ favourite, while he came second in both the Player and Goal of the Season awards last term, as voted for by supporters,” the statement on Fulham’s website read.[22] In his last season with cottagers, Karagounis scored his only goal in a 4-3 loss for League Cup against Leicester City F.C. when he equalised for the club with just three minutes to go but there was still time for Lloyd Dyer to win it for the Foxes.[23] Throughout the year Karagounis suffered from muscle problems, but on 19 April 2014, he played as a substitute his last game with the club in a 1-3 away loss against Tottenham Hotspur F.C. [24]

Karagounis was one of nine players released by relegated Fulham at the end of the 2013–14 Premier League season.[25][26]

National team[edit]

Karagounis captaining Greece in 2010

Early years[edit]

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[edit]

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.[27] 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.[28]

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. On 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[edit]

Karagounis' penalty at Euro 2012, saved by Polish goalkeeper Przemysław Tytoń

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.[29]

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.[30] 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 was 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.[31][32]

"Karagounis is heir to the Greek and international football"

-Marca (newspaper) about Karagounis.[33]

Qualifying for World Cup 2014 and record[edit]

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.[34] 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." [35][36]

Style of Play[edit]

Karagounis is a midfielder that is short in stature, standing at 5 feet 9 inches, but he is known for his tough, gritty play on the field. He gains many comparisons to “The General”, Mimis Domazos. Domazos is a retired Greek player that is widely regarded as one of the best football player in the history of Greece. He was known for his dribbling, and creative passing, especially the accuracy of his long passes. These are the same attributes that Karagounis has as a player. Karagounis has been described as a "dogged worker in the midfield and a deliverer of fine set plays".[37][38]

At his best he is one of the finest set piece exponents on the continent, with his delivery a source of a number of important Greek goals in the past. His dribbling has always been one of his strengths, with Karagounis able to win his own free kicks as well as provide a sometimes-laboured attack with bursts of energy. He also possesses a wonderful shooting ability from distance and combines his varied attacking talents with an aggression in midfield that makes him able to win the ball back, as well as produce with it at his feet. In short, he is his team’s midfield talisman and arguably its most balanced player.[39]

Personal life[edit]

After signing for Fulham, Karagounis moved into a Thames-side flat, becoming neighbours with Manchester United midfielder but then Chelsea midfielder, Juan Mata and Chelsea midfielder, Oscar.[40]

Retirement and career after retirement[edit]

With the transfer window having come to a close without Giorgos Karagounis having succeeded in finding a suitable team with which to continue his playing career, it appears that the former Greek international has taken the decision to retire to the sidelines. However, according to sources, it appears that he will continue to be involved with the Greek national side, having responded positively to a proposal by the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) President Giorgos Sarris that he take up a position working alongside the new national coach Claudio Ranieri,as a Football Director.[41]

He was the Greek national team's captain in the last decade, leading them to two World Cup final stages. Retired now, Giorgos Karagounis is the new member of the staff. Hellenic Football Federation president Giorgos Sarris said "I cannot wait to welcome him back. The Greece national teams have been his home since he was a young boy. We are investing in his love for the jersey, his dedication, his soul and his knowledge".[42]

After the humiliation with the home defeat against Faroe Islands and the recommendation of Giorgos Karagounis, the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) has named Sergio Markarián as the new coach of Greek national team.

On 7 August 2015, The Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) confirmed the departure of national team manager Sergio Markarian, his assistants Roland Marcenaro and Nikos Kostenoglou, as well as national team director Karagounis, in a decision sweeping across the national team set-up after the near elimination of the Euro 2004 champion from the Euro 2016 finals in France.[43]

Career statistics[edit]

As of 23 May 2014[44][45]
Club performance League Cup Europe Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Greece League Greek Cup Europe Total
1996–97 Apollon Smyrni Alpha Ethniki 31 2 2 0 33 2
1997–98 24 7 2 0 26 7
1998–99 Panathinaikos Alpha Ethniki 24 6 5 1 0 0 29 7
1999–00 27 9 4 2 5 0 36 11
2000–01 23 4 5 2 14 1 42 7
2001–02 21 3 5 0 15 3 41 6
2002–03 23 3 3 0 10 0 36 3
Italy League Coppa Italia Europe Total
2003–04 Inter Milan Serie A 9 0 3 0 4 0 16 0
2004–05 12 0 5 0 3 0 20 0
Portugal League Portuguese Cup Europe Total
2005–06 Benfica Primeira Liga 19 1 4 0 7 0 30 1
2006–07 26 2 2 0 9 0 37 2
Greece League Greek Cup Europe Total
2007–08 Panathinaikos Superleague Greece 32 6 2 0 6 0 40 6
2008–09 24 7 1 0 10 3 35 10
2009–10 24 2 5 0 12 1 41 3
2010–11 28 0 2 0 4 0 34 0
2011–12 25 1 2 0 3 0 30 1
England League FA Cup/League Cup Europe Total
2012–13 Fulham Premier League 25 1 3 1 28 2
2013–14 14 0 5 1 19 1
Career Total 411 54 60 7 102 8 573 69

International goals[edit]

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 5 September 2001 Helsinki, Finland  Finland 5–1 Loss 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifier
2. 13 February 2002 Thessaloniki, Greece  Sweden 2–2 Draw Friendly Match
3. 12 June 2004 Porto, Portugal  Portugal 1–2 Win UEFA Euro 2004
4. 30 March 2005 Athens, Greece  Albania 2–0 Win 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifier
5. 26 March 2008 Düsseldorf, Germany  Portugal 1–2 Win Friendly Match
6. 26 March 2008 Düsseldorf, Germany  Portugal 1–2 Win Friendly Match
7. 12 October 2010 Athens, Greece  Israel 2–1 Win UEFA Euro 2012 qualifier
8. 15 November 2011 Altach, Austria  Romania 1–3 Loss Friendly Match
9. 16 June 2012 Warsaw, Poland  Russia 1–0 Win UEFA Euro 2012
10. 15 October 2013 Athens, Greece  Liechtenstein 2–0 Win 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier



Inter Milan


Greece U21
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Angelos Basinas
Greece captain
Succeeded by
Kostas Katsouranis


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External links[edit]