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Greece's Samaras insists politics and football don't mix

updated 12:54 PM EDT, Thu June 21, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Giorgios Samaras says Greece players will ignore political innuendo over Germany match
  • Greece face the Germans in Euro 2012 quarterfinal in Gdansk on Friday
  • Governments of the two nations have clashed over Greece's debt
  • Samaras believes team spirit is greatest asset for unfancied Greek side

(CNN) -- Greece striker Giorgios Samaras says the team's players are blocking out the political overtones of Friday's Euro 2012 quarterfinal against Germany.

The Gdansk contest has been billed in some quarters as a Eurozone grudge match, amid tensions between the two nations over German Chancellor Angela Merkel's tough stance on austerity measures affecting the Greek people.

But Samaras says the soccer squad has developed a siege mentality amid the media hype surrounding the game.

"What's going on between Greece and Germany politics wise -- I really don't care. We as footballers need to stay out of this story and stay focused on the football game only," Samaras told CNN.

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"We are so focused on our football game that we don't care what's going on outside the hotel. We try to stay compact, like a team, stay together like a family, and if there are problems or something we try to avoid everything."

However Samaras revealed that the Greek players were not immune to the economic problems in the country, where national elections were held this week.

"I think it affects everyone in Greece," said the 27-year-old Samaras. "Just because we are football players does not mean we don't have problems."

With politics and economics serving as a backdrop to Friday's quarterfinal, the Celtic forward also admitted it had been a source of pleasure to the Greece squad that they had brought joy to the fans that are following the team, whether in Poland or back home.

"After the game against Russia, people were partying in the streets with Greek flags. They have a smile on their faces and we feel proud.

"We don't play for ourselves or for the money. We play for the national team, we play for history and for the 11 million people back home," said Samaras.

The Celtic striker and his teammates provided a lift to their troubled nation by sealing a surprise 1-0 victory over highly fancied Russia in last weekend's group decider.

It was the latest against-the-odds Euros triumph for the shock 2004 champions, and Samaras believes Greece's phenomenal team spirit is the secret to their string of unlikely successes.

"It's something sometimes you can't explain. It's so strong. We care about each other outside the pitch and that's going onto the pitch. I think that's the strength we have as a team," he said.

"We don't have personal egos in the team. We don't have a superstar -- sometimes the superstars are a little bit outside the team."

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