Greek Fans Storm Istanbul to Back Their `Achilles of Pop' in Eurovision
Howden, Daniel, The Independent (London, England)
A SINGLE topless Greek warrior is preparing to storm Istanbul for the greater glory of his country tonight, armed with a microphone and tight leather trousers.
Forget this summer's Olympics in Athens and Euro 2004 in Portugal: if there is one prize the Greeks are intent on winning this year it is the Eurovision song contest.
Greece's modern-day Achilles is Sakis Rouvas, a low-rent Mediterranean version of Ricky Martin, whose high-energy disco and sugary ballads have made him the unchallenged king of pop in his homeland.
This following has travelled with him. The Turkish capital has not seen this many Greeks since the fall of Constantinople. Thousands have flocked across the Aegean, decked out in commemorative white T-shirts speckled with blue sequins in the shape of the Hellenic flag.
One Rouvas fan, Angeliki Zissi, told The Independent from Istanbul: "This is not a joke; this is serious. Sakis is going to win it for Greece and we're going to be there."
Greece's quest to conquer a competition that is widely regarded elsewhere in Europe as an amusing kitsch ball began three years ago when a Greco- Swedish act took the country to the unprecedented heights of third place. Prior to the whiff of success enjoyed by the Greek-born Swedes, Antique, the country's main contribution to Eurovision folklore was to exchange 12 points with Cyprus with the regularity of a metronome.
Two fallow years followed as faded 1980s performers won through bitter selection processes as if on a mission to remind the growing television audience in Greece that third place had been an accident.
The veteran rocker Michalis Rakintzis's "S.A.G.A.P.O." - from the Greek "I Love You" - finished 17th out of 24, prompting him to sue the producers in Estonia for sabotaging his unique sound. …