World Cup Player Profile: Giorgos Karagounis

Laurence Griffiths

He's not a Fulham player anymore, but he's still dear to my heart, and I'm hoping he has a great World Cup.

As long as there are players out there older than me, I can pretend I'm young. Thankfully I've got Giorgos Karagounis, who was born six months before I was.

Karagounis was a fan favorite in his short time at Fulham. He always played hard and with an energy that disguised his age. He also scored some on some really pretty shots from distance. I'll always have a soft spot for him even though some of his antics made him seem like a cartoon character.

Greece
Midfielder
Caps: 135, Goals: 10
Group C

Giorgos Karagounis

Service for Greece: I'm not sure how to sum up Karagounis' time with Greece. He's their most capped player. He's been with them with every major tournament since the qualifications for the 2002 World Cup. He helped lead them to and scored the first goal in their shocking win at the 2004 Euros. He has captained the side since 2010 and helped them win their first ever World Cup game. He's now got a realistic shot of leading the team out of the group stage for the first time ever. I'm not sure a chapter in a book would be enough, much less a paragraph.

What makes him interesting: Karagounis is going to be one of the oldest players at this World Cup. He doesn't have much pace left, and he's no longer (if he ever was) a great athlete. One might think his game would include smarts and economy of movement, like another aging star Andrea Pirlo. You would be wrong though. Karagounis plays the game like a cartoon Tasmanian Devil. Running and putting in maximum effort into everything he does. Nothing seems easy, and even his flops seem labored. But he is a smart player. He knows when to go down in dangerous areas, when to foul to stop a counter, and when to unleash a shot from distance. He still has a good free kick. The way he makes the most of every challenge can be frustrating, but when the corresponding free kick goes in, it almost seems worth it.

What to expect in Brazil: This is going to be a swan song for Karagounis. Fulham have released him and I'm not sure how much he has left in the tank. He could probably play a few more years for a smaller club in Greece, but his time with anything resembling a large club is over. It would be a story book ending for him to help Greece go further than they ever have before and would further grow is legend in the country.

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