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Q&A: Nikos Dabizas

After the fantastic achievement of the Greek national team during the summer, did you ever think a ‘smaller’ nation could win the European Championships?

It was very difficult in the beginning to think we could win, we were certainly not favourites. I felt it was down to our combined effort as a team and we also took advantage of the fact the bigger teams were not in the best shape. However because of our achievement in the end, I think it will make it easier for smaller nations in the future.

You have worked under a number of top managers during your career, how do you rate Otto Rehargel (Greek national coach)?

Firstly, I think he is very experienced. It is all about making results in this game. Otto was able to win championships with two different clubs in Germany and now he has achieved a great thing with Greece this summer. You can only judge a manager on what he achieves.

What have you made to Greece’s start to qualifying for the World Cup 2006 in Germany?

It has been a very bad start. Losing to Albania away and then only drawing at home to Turkey. However there are plenty of games still to come. I do think it is going to be harder for us now, because teams will take us more seriously than before.

When you left Newcastle United last season, what was the motivating reason for you to join Leicester City?

I wasn’t playing enough first team football at Newcastle. I did receive a number of offers from various clubs, but as soon as I spoke to Micky Adams I could sense the real faith he had in me and my ability.

Despite relegation from the Premiership last season and a number of players leaving the club, do you think that Leicester City has what it takes to bounce back?

I think we have a lot of experienced players to compete well in The Championship. This is a very demanding and physical league, which we have to adapt to quickly.

We are also being treated differently this year. Last season we were expected to lose most matches, this season we are expected to win most games this makes it a bigger challenge. Also there is a busier and more hectic schedule, but I believe we have the squad to cope with that.

Amongst your current teammates at Leicester City, who do you think is the hardest worker in training?

There is no one person in particular who works harder than the rest. I think the club has a good work ethic and we pull together as a team.

Who do you room with on away games?

Normally I will share with Lilian Nalis. I think that is a good combination.

Who would you say has been the biggest influence on your career so far?

It has been a mixture of people really. My personal approach to football makes me think about my ‘other self’. I have had a number of set-backs in my career, most notably a cruciate knee injury at Newcastle United. Also the death of my father four years ago was a bitter blow. I would like to say my wife has been fantastic to be throughout, always by my side and has been very supportive.

Obviously winning Euro 2004 will be the highlight of your playing career, but what would you say has been your greatest honour in your club career so far?

Playing with Newcastle United in two FA Cup finals was fantastic. Although we did not win either, the whole occasions were fantastic. I was also very proud to win the championship back in Greece with Olympiakos.

Do you have any remaining ambitions as a footballer?

I’m 31 but I still want to get back into the Premiership and then stay there for as long as possible. It is a real test of character for any footballer to get into the Premiership, but staying there is even harder.

What is your prediction for Leicester for the rest of the season?

This is a very experienced squad. It is always vital for a football club to know where it is going and I still have a lot of confidence. The minimum is to still make the play-offs but we still think we can actually have an outside chance of making the automatic spots.

Click for the interview.

By Aaron Porter, BBC


232 Appearances in England (175 for Newcastle United, 18 for Leicester in the Premier League and 39 for Leicester in the Championship). Total League-Cup-Europe appearances 550. National Team appearances 70. Goals total 40.