Chelsea hero Poyet explains controversial decision to omit two stars from Greece squad including one Pep Guardiola loves | The Sun
9th October 2023

GREECE manager Gus Poyet has opened up on his decision of leaving top Greek stars Kostas Fortounis and Tasos Douvikas out of his recent squads.

Ethniki have dramatically improved under Poyet, who led them to Nations League success as they got promoted to League B and have a certain play-off ticket for the Euros waiting just in case.

And now the Uruguayan tactician is looking to get the 2004 European champions to Germany but faces severe competition from France and the Netherlands, who are in the same qualifying group along with Republic of Ireland and Gibraltar.

The Chelsea legend's two latest squads left several fans confused – considering the daunting task at hand – as he left out some top talent, like Olympiacos captain Fortounis and Celta star Douvikas.

The 55-year-old tactician explained in May before the qualifiers against Ireland and France that he omitted Fortounis because he didn't fit in to his tactical plans for those games.

The attacking midfielder is considered by many as the best Greek player with 10 assists and four goals in 28 matches last season as well as three goals and eight assists in 12 appearances so far this term.

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The 30-year-old was also publicly praised by Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, who called him a "high-quality player" three years ago when his team faced Olympiacos in the Champions League.

Fortounis went on to announce his international retirement last month just before Poyet revealed his squad for the games against the Netherlands and Gibraltar.

Douvikas is still not included in the ex-Brighton boss' plans as he was left out of the team that will face Ireland and Holland on Friday and Monday respectively.

The striker enjoyed a stunning season with Utrecht as he finished as the Eredivisie's top goalscorer with 20 goals in 34 matches and he's already registered two goals in five LaLiga games with Celta this term.

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The Tottenham great explained that he mainly plays with one centre-forward and thus avoids calling up too many frontmen.

Poyet told SunSport: "I have spoken about my decisions in Greece before. When you look at the negativity around Chelsea and Manchester United in England, the same thing happens in Greece.

"In the last two squad selections the first question has always been about the players who aren’t selected, you are never asked about the players who have been selected, but that’s just the way football works.

"There are different reasons for leaving players out but now Kostas Fortounis has retired from the national team and he was great with me because he called me to let me know his reasons – it was a personal decision and I always support the decisions of the players. I don’t like to push players one way or the other with my opinion.


"Leaving out Tasos Douvikas is a different situation. I am the type of national team coach who doesn’t just pick all the players who are performing well at that time to shake up the team.

" At the moment we have five strikers who are scoring in their own leagues and I need to pick the ones that I need for two games. I don’t need five strikers when I mainly play with one up front.

"I don’t pick players to make people happy and avoid questions about why I didn’t pick certain players. In the end I will be judged by my achievements and my main objective which is qualifying for the Euros.

"We have a list of players playing abroad and most of them are there, and then I will make a decision knowing which ones are fully fit for the two games we need them for. It is nothing more than needing a certain player for a certain game.

"Sometimes you will play deeper and need more pace, other games you will be in the opponent’s half and need more of a presence in the box.

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"In the end, I won’t call players up just to make people happy, I call players up if I am convinced that they are the players best suited to help me win football matches."

Gus Poyet was speaking to The Sun on behalf of

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