Sotiris Kaiafas

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Sotiris Kaiafas
Sotiris Kaiafas.jpg
Personal information
Full name Sotiris Kaiafas
Date of birth (1949-12-17) 17 December 1949 (age 65)
Place of birth Mia Milia, Cyprus
Height 1.76 m (5 ft 9 12 in)
Playing position Striker
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1967–1984 Omonia 388 (261)
National team
Cyprus 33 (19)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Sotiris Kaiafas (born 17 December 1949 in Mia Milia, Nicosia) is a retired Cypriot footballer, who played for Omonia and Cyprus. During his career at Omonia, he won the European Golden Boot. He is considered the best footballer that Cyprus has ever produced and also one of the two best Cypriot sportpeople in the 20th century.

Club career[edit]

Kaiafas played for a local club in Mia Milia, called Proodos. In 1965, he joined Omonia and in 1967, he debuted for Omonia senior team joining the youth team at the age of 16 because he was clearly a class above the rest in his age group. Soon he established himself as one of the most prolific strikers Omonia had ever employed. But it was not until the early 1970s that he served notice of his talent. In the 1971–72 season, Kaiafas became for first time leading scorer in Cyprus with 12 goals, a tally that helped Omonia to their third domestic title. It was the start of a successful partnership.

Kaiafas, like other Cypriot stars such as Andreas Stylianou, Panicos Efthymiades and Leonidas Leonidou, became a cult hero to the fans. It was a period where there was a close connection between players and watchers, at a time when football was played on gravel, not grass, and its practitioners paid only a pittance by clubs.

During the Turkish invasion of Cyprus the Turks captured the northern part of Cyprus along with Kaiafas' village Mia Milia. He, along with 200,000 other Greek Cypriots, had to leave his houses and become a refugee in the rest of Cyprus. Firstly he moved to South Africa with his family for one year after his house fell into the hands of the Turks, but one year later he came back to Cyprus and since then he and his family live in Nicosia. In South Africa, he played football for a year.

He was top scorer of the Cypriot First Division in another seven seasons (1973–74, 1975–76, 1976–77, 1978–79, 1979–80, 1980–81 and 1981–82) and scored a total of nearly 300 league goals, having the record of scoring in a season in Cypriot First Division 44 goals. By all of these achievements, he fired his beloved Omonia AC to the league championship on six occasions.

However, his most productive season was 1975–76, when his 41[1] league goals were sufficient to win him the European Golden Boot and to date represents the highest award ever won by a Cypriot footballer. He was also voted "Cypriot Sportsman of the Year" in 1976 and 1978 by the Cyprus Journalists Association.

"Winning the Golden Boot was one of the happiest days of my life," he said. "It is a very special honour for any European footballer."

On 7 November 1979, Kaiafas enjoyed one of his best games in an Omonia shirt, scoring twice as they defeated Dutch giants Ajax 4–0 in the second round of the European Cup (a partial explanation for the shock scoreline is that it was the second leg of the tie and Omonia had lost 10–0 in Amsterdam two weeks earlier). In the previous round, Kaiafas had scored four goals as Omonia thrashed Red Boys of Luxembourg 6–1. This left him as the third highest goalscorer in the European Cup that season.

His success at club level was not reflected whilst playing for his country but that might reflect the defensive strategy Cyprus employed at the time. For a Cypriot player international goals were always going to be harder to come by, in the days of Pelé, Johan Cruyff and Franz Beckenbauer. Yet even appearing for one of Europe's footballing minnows, Kaiafas managed to register twice in 17 matches.

Kaiafas announced his retirement from football in May 1984, and can now look back on a remarkable career which coincided with the greatest decade in Omonia's history – they were league champions seven times. It is little wonder he refers to the club as "my second family". In 2003, he was selected as the Golden Player of Cyprus and had the honour of representing his country in UEFA Jubilee Awards.

His son, Kostas, after spending the majority of his career at Omonia, played for Aiki Larnaca in the Cypriot Second Division. He now coaches AC Omonia.

Honours[edit]

Club[edit]

Individual[edit]

  • Top goalscorer in the Cypriot League (8): 1971/72, 1973/74, 1975/76, 1976/77, 1978/79, 1979/80, 1980/81, 1981/82
  • European Golden Boot (1):1976
  • Cypriot Sportsman of the Year (2): by Cypriot Journalists: 1976, 1978
  • 2003 UEFA Jubilee Awards for Best Cypriot Footballer of the 20th Century
  • Chosen By Cyprus Sports Association as the Best Cypriot Sportsman of the 20th Century (shared with athlete Stavros Tziortzis)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Όλοι οι νικητές του χρυσού παπουτσιού (in Greek). sport24.gr. Retrieved 21 November 2013. 

External links[edit]

  • UEFA.com – Golden Player of Cyprus [1]