History of AEK Athens F.C.

History of AEK Athens F.C.

AEK Athens F.C., as one of the most famous Association Football clubs in Greece, has a long, unique and idiosyncratic history, and has experienced both the highs and the lows of the game. It won its first championship in 1939 and has gone on to become one of Greece's most successful football teams.

For a more general overview of the club, see AEK Athens F.C.


Early history

The large Greek population of Constantinople (now Istanbul), not unlike those of the other Ottoman urban centres, continued its athletic traditions in the form of numerous athletic clubs. Clubs such as Enosi Tataoulon ( _el. Ένωση Ταταούλων) from the Tatavla district, Megas Alexandros ( _el. Μέγας Αλέξανδρος) of Vathyriakos, and Hermes ( _el. Ερμής - Ermis) of Galata existed to promote Hellenic athletic and cultural ideals; Hermes, one of the more popular clubs, was formed in 1875 by the Greek community of Pera (Galata). Forced by the Kemalist regime to change its name to Pera Club in 1921, many of its athletes fled during the population exchanges at the end of the Greco-Turkish War, and settled in Athens and Thessaloniki.

1924 – 1939

On 13th April 1924, a group of Constantinopolitan refugees (among them athletes from Pera Club and the other Constantinopolitan clubs) met at the athletic shop of Emilios and Menelaos Ionas on Veranzerou Street, in the center of Athens, and established AEK.

The founders of AEK established the club with the intention of providing athletic and cultural diversions for the thousands of predominantly Constantinopolitan and Anatolian refugees who had settled in the new suburbs of Athens (Nea Filadelfeia, Nea Ionia, Nea Chalkidona, Nea Smyrni, e.t.c.). AEK’s first game was a 2-0 win against Aias Athinon.

AEK’s football team grew rapidly in popularity during the 1920s, eclipsing the already-established Athens-based refugee clubs (Panionios, Apollon Smyrnis), thanks mainly to the large pool of immigrants that were drawn to the club and due, in no small part, to the political connections and wealth of several of the club’s board members. Not possessing a football ground, AEK played most of its early matches at various locations around Athens, including the grounds of the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Leoforos Alexandras Stadium.

AEK’s first president, Konstantinos Spanoudis (1871-1941), a journalist and associate of the then Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos, petitioned the government to set aside land for the establishment of a sports ground. In 1926, land in Nea Filadelfia that was originally set aside for refugee housing was donated as a training ground for the refugees. AEK began using the ground for training (albeit unofficially) and by 1930 the property was signed over to the club. Venizelos soon approved the plans to build what was to become AEK’s home ground for the next 70 years, the Nikos Goumas Stadium. The first home game, in November 1930, was an exhibition match against Olympiacos that ended in a 2-2 draw.

In 1928 Panathinaikos FC, Olympiacos, and AEK began a dispute with the fledgling Hellenic Football Federation (EPO), decided to break away from the Athens regional league and form an alliance called P.O.K.(acronym for Podosfairikes-Omades-Kentrou). During the dispute, POK organised friendly matches against each other and several continental European clubs. In 1929, though, the dispute ended and AEK, along with the other POK clubs, entered the EPO fold once again.

In 1932, AEK won their first Greek Cup title, beating Aris FC 5-3 in the final. The team boasted a number of star football players in Kostas Negrepontis (a veteran of the original Pera Club of Constantinople), Kleanthis Maropoulos, Tryfon Tzanetis, Michalis Delavinias, Giorgos Mageiras and Spyros Sklavounos.

The club’s mixed success during the 1930s was highlighted by the first Greek Championship-Cup double in 1939.

1940 – 1959

Under former player Kostas Negrepontis as coach, AEK won the Greek Championship in 1940.With English coach Jack Bimby at the reins, veteran players Maropoulos, Tzanetis, Delavinias and Mageiras, along with new blood Kostas Poulis, Giorgos Goulios, and Pavlos Emmanoualidis, AEK won the Greek Cup competitions of 1949 and 1950, beating Panathinaikos 2-1 and Aris 4-0.

AEK won also the Athens regional championship of 1950, but the playoff games for the Pan-Hellenic title were not played, due to many players being called up for a prolonged training camp for the national team.

The early 1950s saw the addition of the next generation of star footballers in Giannis Kanakis, Andreas Stamatiadis, and goalkeeper Stelios Serafeidis, and along with Poulis and Emmanoualidis, AEK again won the Greek Cup title of 1956, this time beating Olympiacos 2-1 in the final. 1957 saw the debut of one of the greatest forwards of the era, Kostas Nestoridis. Having joined AEK from Panionios in 1956, Nestoridis was forced to sit out the 1956 season because of a dispute between the two clubs over his transfer. In 1958 and 1959 he finished top goal scorer in the league, but it wasn’t enough for AEK to take any titles.

1960 – 1979

With Kostas Nestoridis scoring goals aplenty in the early 1960s, (top goalscorer 1958-1963), and the timely signing of attacker Dimitris Papaioannou in 1962, AEK went on to win the 1963 Championship.

Known affectionately as “Mimis” by the AEK supporters, Papaioannou scored twice in the 1963 playoff against Panathinaikos, levelling the scores at 3-3 and giving AEK its first post-war championship title on goal aggregate. Coached by Hungarian-German Jenő Csaknady, the championship team also consisted of veterans Nestoridis, Serafeidis and Stamatiadis, Alekos Sofianidis, Stelios Skevofilakas, Giorgos Petridis, Manolis Kanellopoulos, and Miltos Papapostolou.

The club followed up with Cup victories in 1964 and 1966, and with the return of Csaknady to the coach’s position in 1968, and with some great players in Kostas Nikolaidis, Giorgos Karafeskos, Panagiotis Ventouris, Fotis Balopoulos, Spyros Pomonis, Alekos Iordanou, Nikos Stathopoulos and Andreas Papaemmanouil, AEK won the championship with relative ease, and became the first Greek football club to reach the quarter-final of European Champions Cup.The addition of goalkeeper Stelios Konstantinidis and Apostolos Toskas reinforced the team and allowed AEK to take its fifth championship title in 1971.AEK won also the unofficial Super-Cup of 1971 beating Olympiacos 4-2 on penalty kicks,after 2 draws of 2-2 at Piraeus and 1-1 at Nea Filadelfia (normal time). Loukas Barlos took over the presidency of AEK in 1974, and with the help of Czech-Dutch coach Frantisek Fadrhonc built one of the finest teams in the club’s history. The Barlos “Golden Era” saw some of the greatest players ever to have played for AEK. Christos Ardizoglou, Giorgos Dedes, Giorgos Skrekis, the Germans Walter Wagner and Timo Zahnleiter, Dionysis Tsamis, Pantelis Nikolaou, Petros Ravousis, Serbian Dušan Bajević, Takis Nikoloudis, Stefanos Theodoridis, Christos Itzoglou, Nikos Christidis. Captained by Papaioannou, 1976-1977 saw AEK reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup competition, the first Greek football club to do so. Beating Dinamo Moscow (Russia) 2-0, Derby County FC (U.K.) 2-0 and 3-2, Red Star Belgrade (Yugoslavia) 2-0, and QPR (U.K.) 3-0 and 7-6 on penalties, AEK were eventually eliminated by Gianni Agnelli’s Juventus FC. Juventus went on to win their first European title.

It was during this period that AEK signed one of Greece’s finest strikers, Thomas Mavros. He was an integral part of the team that reached the UEFA Cup semi finals in 1976, but it was his devastating form (top goal scorer of 1978 and 1979 - 22 and 31 goals, respectively) that helped AEK take the 1978 Championship-Cup double. The addition of former Panathinaikos FC stars Dimitris Domazos and Kostas Eleutherakis to the AEK roster the following year saw the club cap off their most successful decade to-date by winning the 1979 Championship.

Under Loukas Barlos, the Nikos Goumas Stadium was finally completed with the addition of the iconic “Covered Stand”, or Skepasti ( _el. Σκεπαστή), which eventually became home to the most fanatic of AEK supporter groups, Original 21. The next generation of star players, fresh out of the AEK Academy, made their debut during this period – Stelios Manolas, Spyros Ekonomopoulos, Vangelis Vlachos and Lysandros Georgamlis.

1980 – 1999

With new president Michalis Arkadis and Austrian head coach Helmut Senekowitsch, AEK won the 1983 Greek Cup, beating PAOK FC 2-0 in the newly-built Athens Olympic Stadium. Thomas Mavros and 21-year old captain Vangelis Vlachos were the goalscorers.

AEK also chased the elusive Championship title and it finally came in 1989. Coached by former player Dušan Bajević, AEK clinched the title after a winning a crucial match 1-0 against Olympiacos at the Athens Olympic Stadium. Takis Karagiozopoulos scored the goal that gave AEK its first Championship in a decade.AEK won also the Greek Super-Cup of 1989, beating Panathinaikos on penalties, (normal time 1-1).

After the 1989 triumphs, under Bajević, AEK built what was to become one of the most successful teams in its history. Led by Stelios Manolas, the team, which included Toni Savevski, Daniel Batista, Vaios Karagiannis, Vasilis Dimitriadis, Giorgos Savvidis, Alekos Alexandris and Refik Šabanadžović dominated the Greek league through the 1990s with three successive Championship titles (1992, 1993, 1994). AEK also won the Greek League Cup of 1990 (beating Olympiakos 3-2). In 1994-1995 AEK was the first Greek football club that participated in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League after defeating Scottish champions Rangers FC; AEK was eliminated by Ajax Amsterdam and AC Milan, who made it to the final. With Michalis Trochanas as president and Dušan Bajević as coach, the club won the 1996 Greek Cup.

Former player Petros Ravousis took over the coaching position when Dušan Bajević defected to Pireaus-based rivals Olympiacos at the end of 1996, and led the team to its second Super-Cup (August 1996), beating Panathinaikos on penalties, and to its eleventh Cup title in 1997, again beating Panathinaikos on penalties.By far AEK’s most successful run with titles, the period also saw AEK sign talented players in
Demis Nikolaidis, Christos Kostis, Vassilis Tsiartas, Christos Maladenis, Andreas Zikos and Michalis Kasapis. Demis Nikolaidis, in particular, an AEK fan since childhood, declined more lucrative offers from Olympiacos and Panathinaikos FC to sign for his beloved club. During seasons 1996-1997 and 1997-1998, AEK progressed to the Quarter-Final of the European Cup Winners'Cup.

In 1999, ex-president Dimitris Melissanidis organised a friendly match against FK Partizan, in Belgrade, during the height of the NATO bombing of Serbia. As a gesture of compassion and solidarity towards the embattled Serbs, the AEK players and management staff defied the international embargo and traveled to Belgrade for the match. The game ended 1-1, when after 60 minutes of play thousands of Serbian football fans invaded the pitch to embrace the footballers.

2000 – 2004

AEK won its twelfth Cup title in 2000 under Coach Giannis Pathiakakis. The club defeated Ionikos FC 3-0 in the final with goals scored by club icon Demis Nikolaidis, Milen Petkov, and Christos Maladenis. Nikolaidis was later given an award by FIFA’s Fair Play committee after informing the referee that one of the goals he scored during the match was a handball.

The club continued its consistency in the Championship of 2001-02 by finishing equal-first with Olympiacos, however the Piraeus club’s better goal aggregate prevented AEK from gaining its twelfth title. AEK however, defeated Olympiakos in the Greek Cup final and won their 13th Cup.

Despite AEK’s on-field successes, the period was best remembered for the return of Dusan Bajevic as coach in the summer of 2002, a move that sparked open hostility towards Bajevic from a section of AEK supporters.

Under Bajevic, AEK progressed through the qualifying rounds in the 2002 UEFA Champions League by eliminating APOEL FC over the home-and-away legs. Drawn in Group A with AS Roma, Real Madrid, and Racing Genk, AEK put in a spirited performance and despite being undefeated (the club drew all its games), were unable to progress to the next round.

The transfers of Nikos Lymperopoulos and Cypriot Ioannis Okkas to AEK promised to revitalise the club’s on-field success amid the growing financial problems. Modest performances, though, were not enough as more off-field dramas unfolded. Punctuated by the demolition of Nikos Goumas Stadium, home to AEK for over 70 years, club president Chrysostomos Psomiadis (with the assistance of his bodyguards) allegedly assaulted team captain Demis Nikolaidis (the player was allegedly nightclubing resulting in bad performances). After the altercation, and partly due to the club’s growing financial problems from mismanagement, Nikolaidis as he was already paid for the matches he played, was let on free transfer by mutual consent and signed for Atlético Madrid. Unable to cope with the negativity from a large section of AEK fans, Bajević resigned in 2004 during a season match against Iraklis FC.

By now, on the brink of bankruptcy, and losing most of its Euro 2004 stars and experienced players to other European clubs, AEK needed a miracle to prevent it from being relegated to the Greek amateur leagues. Though both Kostas Katsouranis and Nikos Lymperopoulos remained, Vassilis Borbokis, Grigorios Georgatos, Theodoros Zagorakis, Michalis Kapsis, Michalis Kasapis, Michel Kreek, Vassilis Lakis, Vassilis Tsiartas, and Ioannis Okkas all left the club in the wake of the troubles.

A New Era

2004 - Present

In 2004 Demis Nikolaidis, at the head of a consortium of businessmen, bought out the beleaguered AEK and became the new club president with the help of all AEK fans who started mass protests organized by the hard core fans. His primary task was to lead AEK out of its precarious financial position. The first success was an arrangement through the Greek justice system to write off most of the massive debt that previous club administrators had amassed, and to repay any remaining public debts in manageable instalments.

Securing the club’s existence in the Alpha Ethniki, Nikolaidis then began a program to rebuild AEK to its former glory. He appointed experienced former player Ilija Ivić as technical director of the club and brought back Fernando Santos as coach. The AEK fans, emboldened by Nikolaidis’s efforts, followed suit by buying season ticket packages in record numbers (over 17,000).

AEK recruited promising young players to strengthen a depleted team. Led by the experienced Katsouranis and Lymperopoulos, and featuring Brazilian Júlio César, the club made it to the Greek Cup final (for 7th time in 13 years!), finished second in the Championship, and in the process secured a place in the Third Qualifying Round of the UEFA Champions League.For the 2006-07 season former Real Betis coach Llorenç Serra Ferrer was appointed to the coaching position,after Fernando Santos contract was not renewed.

By beating Hearts two times (2-1 in Scotland and 3-0 in Greece), AEK participated to thegroup stage of Champions-League obtaining 8 points, as won Milan 1-0 and Lille 1-0 and having two draws with Anderlecht (1-1 at OAKA and 2-2 in Belgium).AEK finished 2nd in the league qualifying again for the 3rd round in the UEFA Champions League.

For the 2007/08 season AEK changed kit sponsors from adidas to Puma [ [http://www.aekfc.gr/index.asp?a_id=74&n_id=3234&cpage=2 AEK switch to PUMA] ] , they have played with Sevilla FC in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round,the 1st leg has been played on August 15, away at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán when AEK was defeated by 2 goals [ [http://www.scorespro.com/lives2/goals.php?f=220339 Sevilla FC - AEK FC : 2-0] Match report from Scorespro.com] and the 2nd leg played on September 03 at the Athens Olympic Stadium where AEK lost again by 1-4 [ [http://www.scorespro.com/lives2/goals.php?f=220355 AEK FC - Sevilla FC : 1-4] Match report from Scorespro.com] .AEK completed the signings of Brazilian legend Rivaldo and have made several other signings such us Rodolfo Arruabarrena, Charis Pappas, Ismael Blanco. Traianos Dellas was rewarded with a new contract keeping him at the club until summer 2009 [ [http://www.aekfc.gr/index.asp?a_id=305&n_id=3188 Dellas signes new contract] ] .On 25 August the Super League and EPO decided to postpone the opening season's games due to the fire disaster in the Peloponnese [ [http://www.uefa.com/footballeurope/news/kind=2/newsid=574997.html Greece postpone games] ] , [ [http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30200-1281450,00.html "National Tragedy"] ] . After being eliminated from the UEFA Champions League, AEK were drawn to play FC Salzburg in the UEFA Cup. On September 20 in Athens, AEK defeated FC Salzburg 3-0 [ [http://www.uefa.com/competitions/uefacup/fixturesresults/round=15118/match=301417/index.html AEK 3-0] ] . The second leg was played in Salzburg on October 4 AEK lost the match but still went trough 3-1 on agg [ [http://www.uefa.com/competitions/uefacup/fixturesresults/round=15118/match=301457/index.html Salzburg - AEK] ] . On October 09 AEK were drawn in Group C in the UEFA Cup group stage along with Villarreal, Fiorentina, Mladá Boleslav, and Elfsborg [ [http://www.uefa.com/competitions/uefacup/news/kind=1/newsid=600044.html Past masters meet in group stage] ] .On October 25 AEK kicked off the group stage's with a 1-1 draw away to Elfsborg [ [http://www.uefa.com/competitions/uefacup/fixturesresults/round=15119/match=301611/report=rp.html AEK hold on to frustrate Elfsborg] ] ,on November 29 AEK again drew 1-1,this time at home to Fiorentina [ [http://www.uefa.com/competitions/uefacup/fixturesresults/round=15119/match=301642/report=rp.html Balzaretti own goal earns AEK a point] ] .On December 05 AEK won Mlada Boleslav 1-0 [ [http://www.scorespro.com/lives2/goals.php?f=228382 M Boleslav - AEK Athens : 0-1] Match report from ScoresPro.com] away and on December 20 although AEK was home defeated 1-2 [ [http://www.scorespro.com/lives2/goals.php?f=228384 AEK FC - Villareal : 1-2] Match report from Scorespro.com] by Villarreal CF, finally booked a place in the knockout stage of the UEFA Cup, finishing third in the group. They were then drawn against Getafe CF in the third round (phase of 32). AEK has been advanced to the third round of UEFA Cup, for second consecutive season.

On 12 February AEK parted company with Llorenç after a poor run of form and un-successful signings [ [http://www.uefa.com/competitions/uefacup/news/kind=1/newsid=657089.html AEK call time on coach Serra Ferrer] ] and replaced him with former player Nikos Kostenoglou, on a caretaker basis, at the end of an indifferent season. The team initially finished in first place in the league, but after the court case between Apollon Kalamaria and Olympiacos for the illegal usage of a player in the 1-0 Apollon Kalamaria win earlier in the season, Olympiacos were awarded the 3 points in a court hearing, thus finishing 2 points ahead of AEK. [cite news|url=http://www.uefa.com/footballeurope/news/kind=16/newsid=685259.html|title=Legal Dispute|accessdate=2008-05-15|date=2008-04-20|publisher=uefa.com] AEK president Demis Nikolaidis and several other managers and chairmen have been angered with the court's decision, stating that the Hellenic Football Federation knew about the usage of the illegal player prior to the game but didn't do anything about it.
Giorgos Donis was appointed head coach of AEK on May 14 [ [http://www.aekfc.gr/index.asp?a_id=305&n_id=4184&cpage=1 Giorgos Donis - Head Coach of AEK FC] ] .

ee also

*AEK Athens F.C.


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