In 2004, Otto Rehhagel, taking on the role of the great Odysseus, concocted an unlikely plan to conquer Europe.

Where Odysseus' cunning mythological feat had been an against-the-odds triumph at the siege of Troy, the German coach similarly extracted an unforeseen victory in Portugal as some of the continent's finest teams were put to the sword by unfancied Greece.

If the allusion seems a little trite, it certainly resonated with the Greek players felt as they swept all before them playing a cagey, stealthy tactical game that placed a heavy emphasis on defence before unleashing surprise attacks on the opposition.

In each game in the knockout stages at EURO2004, France, Czech Republic and the hosts all fell into the wily Rehhagel's trap. The goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis is in no doubt where much of the the credit lay for the Greeks' success when he recalls it 16 years later.

“Otto Rehhagel, apart from the analysis and explanations of the way we had to play, which he included in every speech, he always had a characteristic way of explaining things with examples of how a smaller and weaker team could beat a much bigger opponent,” recalls Nikopolidis.

“And so, he created a team which was determined and very strong. No one was afraid of any opponent. There was respect but not fear.

HeraldScotland: Nikopolidis says Rehhagel created a team which was determined and very strong. No one was afraid of any opponentNikopolidis says Rehhagel created a team which was determined and very strong. No one was afraid of any opponent

The moment when the Greeks knew they could go all the way came in the quarter-finals against holders France at the Jose Alvelade stadium in Lisbon. Having qualified from a group containing Spain, Portugal and Russia, Nikopolidis and his team-mates already knew they had achieved something beyond the country's wildest expectations but he says the players were hungry for greater glory and, dangerously for France, there was no pressure on them.

“We knew that we had already succeeded in some ways but we wanted more. So, we were free from stress and we came out against one of the best teams in history and one of the best players in the world, Zidane.

We had no pressure on us and we tried to give it our best. And like Otto Rehhagel said in his speech that day, “If we are to fall then we fall bravely like Greeks”. In the end, we didn’t just avoid falling but we won and got through. As I said before, that game became a turning point for us and that's when we started to realise and believe that we could go to the very end.

And so, they despatced France 1-0 thanks to a goal from Angelos Charisteas. It was to become a familiar scoreline for Greece, who would score just one goal per game on their way to lifting the trophy, emulating the shock success of Denmark 12 years prior by defeating the hosts 1-0 in the final at Lisbon's Stadium of Light thanks again to another goal by striker Charisteas.

“It was something unique. I couldn’t believe it. It was a moment where you would ask somebody to pinch you to see if we were dreaming or not.

Denmark did it once but I think our success is much greater,” adds Nikopolidis, who has words of hope for Scotland and supporters of all lesser-fancied nations.

“It’s also important that our team delivered a message for the next EUROs; that the relatively small countries, not the favourites, can perform well.

“This is exactly what they will always have in their mind: if Greece could do it then why can’t we? And I think that is beneficial to the EUROs.”