Greek News

Germany enlists Otto Rehhagel in Greece 'charm offensive'


Berlin has enlisted the help of Otto Rehhagel, a much-loved football coach among the Greeks, to make Germany popular again in crisis-hit Greece.

Rehhagel, who led Greece to victory at the Euro 2004, is holding talks in Athens as a goodwill ambassador.

The 74-year-old was reportedly picked out for the delicate mission by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Many Greeks hold Mrs Merkel responsible for tough austerity measures being implemented by the Greek government.

Over the past few days, the German chancellor has also been blamed by protesters in Cyprus for the stringent terms of its EU bailout.

'Our friends'
On Tuesday, Rehhagel - passionately known as King Otto among Greeks - held talks with Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni and was later expected to attend a friendly football match.

Speaking to reporters, he stressed that Greece and Germany were "connected by friendship and a common culture".

"Whatever happens, Greeks will remain our friends. We have to help countries that are down on their luck."

The former Greek national coach was so revered for his European Championship feat that he became known as "Rehakles", Die Welt newspaper reported, referring to the mythical ancient Greek hero, Heracles.

While he worked something of a miracle on the football pitch some years ago, a similar effort was needed now to end Mediterranean hostility towards Germany, the paper added.

The former coach is being accompanied by Germany's envoy to Greece, Hans-Joachim Fuchtel.

BBC, 26 March 2013



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