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Marios Gkiourdas

Greece has appeared in the World League seven times and it says a lot for the player that skipper, Marios Gkiourdas, has featured in every edition.

Born in Alexandroupoli, the 30-year-old joined the national team in 1993 and has gone on to play 241 times for his country. And over that time he has become the most popular player in Greece.

Gritty determination mixed with subtle flair and leadership are Gkiourdas' endearing qualities and it's not unusual to see the effect of a quick verbal exchange between him and a teammate can prove inspirational.

Gkiourdas was a member of the Greek team that gained a highly creditable sixth place at the World Championship in 1994 and his uncompromising attack is still a decisive factor for the Greek squad, who are working hard to be ready to produce their best at the upcoming Olympic Games in their country's capital Athens in 2004.

Last year Gkiourdas, who plays in the Greek league for the Olympiakos Piraeus club, led Greece to ninth in the 13th edition of the World League and a promising seventh place at the World Championship in Argentina where he was the fifth best spiker. 

While competition success is proving easier to come by with his club - four national titles, three cups and second place at the 2000-2001 Indesit European Champions' League - his passion and drive are helping the Greek team to make a steady impression at the international level.