Thursday, May 27, 2021

Football fans, show Village Cinemas that we care

Congratulations to Village Cinemas for once again providing Hobart football fans with an excellent football documentary to watch.

“King Otto”, directed by Christopher Marks, will screen in Hobart three times:  Friday (tomorrow) at 7pm, Saturday at 4pm and Sunday at 4pm.

It is about Otto Rehhagel, the German coach who was in charge of the Greek national team when they won the European Championship in Portugal in 2004, against all the odds.

Rehhagel, or Mr Rehhagel, as the players and everyone else called him, took charge of Greece in 2001.

They had never won a game, nor scored a goal, in any major competition.  They had only ever qualified for two major competitions.

Mr Rehhagel changed that and had the players believing in themselves and had the nation behind the team as never before.

He didn’t speak Greek and had to use an interpreter, which made the job even more difficult.

The Greek fans until then had been passionate about Greek club sides, but the national team always seemed a lost cause.

Mr Rehhagel instilled discipline and brought out the best in the players.  Greek communities around the world went into ecstasy when the team won the 2004 European Championship with a 1-0 win over hosts Portugal in the final in Lisbon on 4 July 2004.

It was the biggest upset since Denmark had won the title in 1992.

In the group stages, Greece beat Portugal 2-1, drew 1-1 with Spain and lost 2-1 to Russia, but still qualified for the quarterfinals as second in the group.

In the quarterfinals, Greece beat France 1-0, while in the semi-finals, Greece beat the Czech Republic 1-0 to qualify for the final.

It was a triumph of defensive tactics and counter-attacking and of making the most of the qualities of the players that were available.

Mr Rehhagel was regarded as a god by Greek supporters all over the world and he is still revered whenever he visits the country.

That 2004 team, who are all veterans now, still play friendly exhibition matches with Mr Rehhagel in charge.

They recently played the veteran Portugal team of 2004 in Greece, and won again.

When the team returned to Athens after winning the 2004 final, it took the bus carrying the players 7 hours to travel from the airport to the centre of Athens, a journey that normally takes 20 minutes.

I had the opportunity to see Mr Rehhagel and the Greek players in the flesh in 2006, when they were in Melbourne to play a friendly against Australia.

I was attending a dinner at the MCG and, needless to say, I left the other guests to enjoy their meals while I had my nose pressed to the glass window high above the arena as I watched Mr Rehhagel conduct a training session on the MCG pitch that evening.

I easily picked out Mr Rehhagel, who exuded authority, while the only other player I recognised was Angelos Charisteas, he of the long flowing black locks who had scored the goal that beat Portugal in the 2004 final before a crowd of 62,564.

Australia won the friendly a couple of days later 1-0 at the MCG before a crowd of 95,103.

Melbourne has, after all, the largest Greek population in the world outside of Athens.

Greece were at odds of 5,000/1 for the final in 2004.  I have a couple of Greek friends in Hobart who made a killing on the result.

I urge all football fans to watch “King Otto” this weekend.  Show Village Cinemas that there is an audience for football films and we may see more.

I reckon all Greeks and Australians of Greek heritage living in Hobart, and indeed, all football fans, will want to attend the screenings.  A sell-out may even persuade Village Cinemas to have extra screenings.



Greg said...

Thanks for the heads up Walter. Great article.

Dean said...

The world is currently filled with excellent football movies...I can feel a film festival coming on if we all got behind it.