This article explores the influence that an unexpected athletic success can have on the construction of national identity while attempting to answer the question on how such a success can be used as a means to overcome national crises. Using a reflective analysis, this study examines the impact of the Euro 2004 Championship on Greece’s national identity, highlighting the correlation between two events associated with Greekness, to wit national pride and Hellenic identity in the sport, economic and social contexts. The first event was the unpredicted victory of the Greek football team in 2004, thanks to their German coach Otto Rehhagel, and the second Rehhagel’s visit to Athens in March 2013, in his informal role of political mediator, in an attempt to contribute to restoring Greek-German friendship which had been shattered during the country’s period of economic memorandums. This conceptual paper uses a qualitative discourse analysis to explain and understand human action through an examination of media texts and symbolic narratives: the headlines and narratives on the Euro 2004 victory in the Greek and foreign press and media, along with the slogans used by football fans after each victory, voicing the ‘superiority’ of Greekness.
Keywords: Greekness, national identity, media, gender, hegemonic masculinity, sport, Euro 2004, Rehhagel, economic crisis, historical memory, the closest other