Greece captain Zagorakis to hang up boots

September 7, 2006

ATHENS, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Greece captain and most-capped player Theodoros Zagorakis is to retire from international soccer, the head of the Greek Football Federation Vassilis Gagatsis said on Thursday.

The 34-year-old, who led Greece to victory in Euro 2004, had been toying with retirement for several months but had been persuaded to stay on by Gagatsis and coach Otto Rehhagel.

However, after being substituted at halftime in the friendly match against England last month and again in the Euro 2008 qualifier against Moldova on Saturday, Zagorakis has indicated he is ready to step down.

'For as long as I'm at the federation, I'd want Theodoris at the national team, at any post. It's a fact that he wants to stop,' Gagatsis told Greek radio.

'He's realised that his time has come. He knows his limits. We're in the process of looking to create a post for him which he'd like to have, too. We want him to be a part of the squad every time it gathers. He was a natural leader.'

Zagorakis, who will continue to play club soccer for PAOK at least until the end of this season, made his debut for Greece 12 years ago.

He has gone on to make a record 118 appearances as an influential midfielder, scoring the first of only three goals in his 101st appearance, a 2006 World Cup qualifier against Denmark.

Zagorakis, who has also played for English club Leicester City, AEK Athens and Bologna in Italy, is expected to make a farewell appearance with Greece in their Euro 2008 qualifier against Norway in Athens next month.