23rd June, 2012
Greece’s 4-2 defeat by Germany in Friday’s Euro 2012 quarter-final prompted veteran duo Kostas Chalkias and Nikos Liberopoulos to announce they were retiring from international football.
PAOK goalkeeper Chalkias, at 38 the oldest player at the tournament, said he was bowing out after enjoying his time in the competition.
“This has been one of the best months of my career. Right now I am very emotional and proud — it was a dream finish for my international career,” added Chalkias, who was capped 32 times.
Striker Liberopoulos, 36, made his senior debut for Greece in 1996 and said the decision to retire was like leaving a family.
“I am proud and happy to have participated in Greece’s effort to reach the quarter-finals,” said Chalkias, who started the finals as first choice but played no further part after going off injured in the second group game against Czech Republic.
Liberopoulos, who failed to make the victorious Euro 2004 squad but regained his place for the finals four years later, said that he had been reluctant to leave the pitch at the end of the German game.
He came on as a substitute midway through the second-half in Gdansk but fail to add to his 13 international goals.
“I feel blessed that I get to close this chapter among a team that are like family to me,” the AEK player told Greek television.
“It’s a big honour for me. At the end of the match, I felt that I didn’t want to leave the pitch,” added Liberopoulos, who had previously retired from the national side in 2009, only for coach Fernando Santos to persaude him back a year later.
Both players’ retirements may provoke other veterans to consider their futures, notably Greece’s inspirational 35-year-old captain Giorgos Karagounis, who is one of the few remaining from the 2004 triumph.
Karagounis was sorely missed in the Germany game because he was suspended.