|Welcome to AEK
For many tourists, a holiday in Cyprus normally consists of endless sessions on the beach, soaking up the rays, enjoying a cruise across the Mediterranean, visits to historic monuments, tasting the fine Cypriot cuisine and sipping an array of famous wines. But depending on personal interest, taking the time to witness one of the island’s most patriotic passions can at first seem more daunting than a conventional night on the town.
Situated on the east coast and hub to the major international airport of the island, Larnaca is the oldest living city of Cyprus and in ancient times was known as Kition, or Citium. It has a population of 72,000 and is the island’s second commercial port.
Not only is the city an important resort for hosting thousands of welcome tourists each and every year, Larnaca is also home to the well-known football club, AEK Larnaca FC.
As part of our campaign to encourage people to go and support their local team, Cyprus Sport & Leisure wishes to provide an insight into the club and “open the gates” for both tourists and foreigners to feel comfortable in going to watch the weekly matches and daily training sessions.
AEK Larnaca FC was formed on the 18th of July 1994 after a merger between two previous clubs from Larnaca, EPA and Pezoporikos, with the unique aim to create a powerful team that would assemble around all AEK fans and make them proud of the club’s success. The colours of the club are green and yellow and their emblem is the famous Athenian general, Kimon, who according to legend, died fighting at sea defending the city during a major battle against the Persians of Xerves. It is said that he told his officers to keep the news of his death secret. The quote “Και Νεκρος Ενικα” (“Even in death he was victorious”) refers to Kimon. A statue of “Kimon the Athenian” stands proudly on the sea front promenade of Larnaca today.
The birth of AEK Larnaca FC was anything but easy. Soon after the club came into existence, AEK was subjected to countless problems where the club had to fight just in order to survive as an organisation. A recent economic chaos made the future uncertain, but through pride and perseverance, club founders, fans and associates alike combined to keep the club afloat. And it was not long before the first official game of the newly established team took place against local rivals Ethnikos Achnas in the GSZ stadium in the summer of 1994. AEK excited the crowd with a 3-0 victory in-front of 8000 local fans that submerged each corner of the ground.
The two former clubs that helped merge AEK in 1994, EPA and Pezoporikos, each have great individual history. EPA won 3 championship titles, 5 Cyprus Cup titles and 1 Super Cup. Pezoporikos won 2 championship titles and 1 Cup title respectively.
Recently, AEK won their first Cyprus Cup in 2004 beating AEL Limassol 2-1. They have reached the Cup final two more times but were beaten on both occasions by APOEL FC in 1996, 2-0 in extra time and in 2006, 3-2.
Funded by sponsorships and contributions, AEK is one of the top football teams on the island with a diverse political fan base comprising of social groups that stem mainly from Larnaca and the surrounding city suburbs.
In charge at the helm is current club president, Cypriot Thomas Kyriakou and Israeli coach, Nir Klinger. According to AEK press man, Nikolas Trebbithis, this season’s team objective remains to “push for a top four finish in the 1st Division, as well as a decent run in the Cup competition” where good tradition has made ‘The Green Yellows’ one of the favourable teams to lift the trophy in recent years.
Today’s squad includes players from countries such as Greece, Nigeria, Croatia and even Brazil, as well as home players from the shores of Cyprus. The range of player nationalities is reflected in the stands where fans and tourists come together to show their support and pay tribute to players from their home countries.
AEK’s home games are played at the Neo GSZ Stadium, which is also known as the Gymnastic Club Zenon Stadium. The multi-use stadium is mostly used for football matches but also offers athletic facilities for local and international athletes. The club also boasts a men’s basketball team and a women’s volleyball team. The stadium took its name from the native philosopher of Larnaca, Zeno of Citium and currently holds a capacity of 13,032 people.
In 2006, it hosted the Cyprus Cup final between APOEL FC and AEK Larnaca, where APOEL won 3-2. The greatest event that was hosted in the Larnaca stadium was the final for the 1998 UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship between Ireland and Germany where they drew 1-1. Ireland eventually won the trophy on penalties after a 4-3 shoot-out.
As AEK, the heroic Cup triumph of 2004 remains their only title until now, but they have been runner-up in the same competition in 1996 and 2006, plus runner-up in the Cyprus FA Shield in 1996 and 2004. However, with a recent budget increase, subsequent additions of new players and the promising development of home-grown talent, it is guaranteed that much more success awaits in the near future.
One significant prospect for the future involves the present negotiations between the club and government officials over the possible construction of a new stadium. “Plans are also in place to modify the existing stadium in order to make it feel more homely” states club press man, Nikolas Trebbithis.
Although match dates and times vary, most games are played over the weekend, with Cup competitions taking place throughout the working week. In the summer, kick-off times normally commence at 6pm, while some matches do start at 7pm or later, especially if the game is to be televised locally. During the winter period, matches begin at either 2:30pm or 3pm, Saturday or Sunday depending on the fixture schedule.
Tickets for away games are available from the club, (AEK Larnaca FC, GSZ Stadium) 48 hours before kick-off, a few hours before the game or directly from the opponent’s stadium. Tickets for home games are available at the GSZ Stadium.
Ticket prices are ₤7 for adults, ₤3.50 for students up to 18 years of age and just 50 cents for children under 12 years old. Season tickets are also available directly from the club. If you are a regular spectator, gold membership can be purchased for ₤200 before the start of the season. The club also offers standard membership for ₤130. Prices can vary depending on which part of the season the membership is purchased. For example, buying a membership after the season has started will cost considerably less than full membership as the price is then calculated on the remainder of games left in the football season. (All prices are in Cyprus Pounds)
The Neo GSZ Stadium is located off the first round-about before the industrial area of Aradippou. For those who don’t have transport, the stadium is just a five minute taxi-ride from the centre of Larnaca.
The training pitches are situated directly behind the main entrance to the stadium where people from all walks of life are welcome to watch at anytime. First team training sessions commence daily and if you wish to see some of the Cypriot stars of the future, the youth teams initiate their training sessions daily from late afternoon onwards. Extensive parking and spectator facilities are available around the training fields, whereas refreshments are also available within the stadium itself.
Training sessions and matches are open to all the public, no matter where you hail from. People from all walks of life are welcome to support the team and join the loyal fans for a friendly sing along at any of the coming matches and witness pleasant football surroundings in the Neo GSZ Stadium.
So whether you’re a resident or a tourist, AEK Larnaca FC welcomes you to watch any of their games throughout the current season and distant future.