Athlitiki Enosi Larissa F.C.
|Full name||Αθλητική Ένωση Λάρισας
(Athletic Union of Larissa)
|Nickname(s)||Βασίλισσα του Κάμπου (Queen of the Lowlands)
Οι Βυσσινί (The Crimsons)
|Founded||17 May 1964|
|2016–17||Superleague Greece, 13th|
AEL F.C. (Greek: ΠΑΕ ΑΕΛ), also known with its full name Athlitiki Enosi Larissa (Greek: Αθλητική Ένωση Λάρισας, Athletic Union of Larissa), simply called AEL or Larissa, is a Greek association football club based in the city of Larissa, capital of Greece's Thessaly region.
Founded in 1964, it is directly associated with the city of Larissa and its representation. The club's emblem, is a rising horse and its colors are crimson and white. It is the only team outside the two major Greek cities (Athens and Thessaloniki) to have won the Greek Championship in the season 1987–88. AEL has also won the Greek Cup twice (1984–85 and 2006–07) and came runners-up in the Cup finals of 1982 and 1984. This record places the club among the top teams in the history of Greek football.
They play their home games at AEL FC Arena, a newly built stadium (2010) with a capacity of 16,118 seats. The team currently competes in the Greek Super League, the first tier of the Greek football league system.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Creation and first years (1964–79)
- 1.2 1980's: The Golden Decade
- 1.3 Countdown and "Stone Years" (1996–2003)
- 1.4 New Age (2004–13): Piladakis Years
- 1.5 Today
- 2 Honours
- 3 Crest and colours
- 4 Facilities
- 5 Supporters
- 6 Records
- 7 Players
- 8 Managerial history
- 9 UEFA Team Ranking 2013/14
- 10 Statistical History
- 11 League Total
- 12 European Competitions
- 13 Club staff
- 14 Chairmen
- 15 Kit manufacturers and Sponsorship
- 16 References
- 17 External links
Creation and first years (1964–79)
AEL was created from a vision of a powerful team that will represent a city like Larissa in the top category. 17 May 1964, is referred to as the exact date of its establishment, and then – after a barrage of meetings and discussions – held at the Municipal Conservatory of Larissa and a catalytic last meeting of the local county clubs, it has been decided to merge Iraklis Larissa, Aris Larissa, Toxotis Larissa, and Larissaikos. The Athletic Union of Larissa was not a vision anymore but reality. Initially planned to custom the team with colors black and white, the final decision was taken for the colors to crimson and white. The first manager in charge of the team was Yugoslavian Aleksandar Petrović. On 7 June 1964, Alcazar Stadium, the team's first home ground, the maiden game of AEL took place, a surprising 2–1 friendly match victory against Panionios. Players such as Dimitrios Zampas, Michalis Karelias, Giorgos Kyriakos, Rizos Lellis, Stratos Papazoglou, Stavros Kassas, Giannis Saltapidas, Lakis Delfos, Nikos Katsianis and others, constructed the very first roster of the team. Everything was ready to start under the administrative umbrella of a 15-member ecumenical council, composed of representatives of the merger teams and organizations of the city, in which the former president of Iraklis Larissa, Konstantinos Tzovaridis, acted as the very first president of AEL.
The teams first season resulted in a 5th place in the 1964–65 Beta Ethniki, the second tier. The following year saw the team finish 3rd in the league, which gave hopes for a promotion the first division, however promotion was lost in a game against Vyzas on 8 May 1966 at Megara. During the entry of the team on the field, player Dimitrios Zambas was hit in the head by a ladder thrown from the stands and was taken to the hospital. The team, with 10 players due to the elimination of Alekos Kyriakidis from the first quarter, and with three of the ten remaining players injured, had formal presence, and was eventually defeated 6–0. Despite well-known managers, such as Dionysis Minardos, Giourkas Seitaridis, and Giannis Helmis, being in charge of the team, tough years were ahead. In the 1966–67 season saw the team finish in 10th place, with the following season resulting in another disappointing result, 14th. The 1968–69 saw the team struggle hardest, resulting in the team fighting against relegation. AEL concluded the season as 17th with relegation being reality. However, in 1969 Kostas Aslanidis, Lieutenant Colonel and the Secretary General of Athletics of the Greek Junta, increased the two groups of the Beta Ethniki to three and thus AEL, amongst others, remained in the division. In Fact, there was a rationalization of the Beta Ethniki, by creating three groups of 16 teams, of which five of each group would get relegated to the Gamma Ethniki, the third tier. With the change in decade, the emergence of the administrative forefront of the Kantonias family managed to change the status of the team. Through the new administration, some experienced players such as Giangos Simantiris, Theodoros Kyziroglou, Antonis Charitidis and Stelios Nikiforakis, Lakis Pagkarliotas, amongst others, joined the team.
On 25 June 1972, the last game of the Beta Ethniki season 1971–72, brought the team in a position in which they needed the victory to celebrate the promotion in the Alpha Ethniki. The match took place in the Serres Municipal Stadium in which AEL managed to take the lead followed by an disputed penalty equalizer for Panserraikos. Shortly after riots between the players emerged on the field, leading to also causing riots on the stands, in a match that ended 1–1, resulting in AEL finishing second in the league and thus failing to promote to the top division of Greek football. The following day, thousands of citizens gathered in Larissa and resentful of the injustice marched to the central square of the city. The demonstration took the character of an anti-junta movement, which was one of the few mass events that were made in Greece before the events of Athens Polytechnic uprising. In addition, AEL submitted an objection for the improper use of Spyros Stefanidis by Panserraikos. The Regulations Committee of the Hellenic Football Federation upheld the complaint due to Panserraikos not paying the fine of 250 Drachmas for the penalty. On 30 June, the same committee, in a new meeting and after the intervention of Colonel Kostas Aslanidis, himself originating from Serres, dismissed the objection of AEL and promoted Panserraikos to the Alpha Ethniki.
The first promotion
A season that was started with President Antonios Kantonias, continued with Michalis Kittas and ended up headed by Mayor Messinis, was to be the highlight season in the young history of the team. Big investments were made with players such as Horacio Morales, Daniel Hill, Giorgio Vajeho, Guillermo Daus and Enrique Cavoli joining AEL from Argentina. Months prior these players represented Independiente in the Intercontinental Cup against AC Milan. On 23 June 1973, AEL defeated Kallithea 3–0 and sealed promotion to the Alpha Ethniki, finishing first with 98 points, ahead of the second placed Anagennisi Karditsa who concluded the season with 89 points. The team began the 1973–74 season as an underdog, but clearly capable of competing, granted by the talent and quality players such as Kyriakidis, Giannis Matzourakis and Thomas Dramalis. The course was based on the overall strength within the home ground and the final 9th position was considered highly successful. Yugoslav manager Stevan Karanfilović was replaced, due to expired residence to the country that was not renewed for political reasons, by the Bulgarian manager Ivan Kochev. However, a team built with solely legionnaires without having obtained the financial stability and thus a solid basis, things were dealt with on short-term planning instead of preparing the team for the future. As a result, the very next season problems started, which led to hasty choices, judgments and frequent upheavals in all levels. Inevitably therefore, the team didn't avoid relegation and at the end of the 1974–75 season returned to the Beta Ethniki as 18th. Since an immediate return was considered impossible, the rebuilding of the team began slowly, mainly based around local talents. More experienced players such as Kostas Siavalas, Panagiotis Boutos, Rizos Lellis, Stergiadis, and Nikos Argyroulis formed the backbone on which, as time went on, had positive impact for the team. As a matter of fact, the great breakthrough was made a year later by President Elias Kelesidis and his colleagues in the administration, when they decided to promote the entire youth squad to the first team, and get all the talents that admittedly stood out in the Thessalian prefecture. Thus, on 26 May 1977, in a friendly match against AEK, also the first under spotlights in Alcazar Stadium, AEL's line-up included Thanasis Anagnostou, Giannis Mousouris and nine native players from the Larissa region. Among them, to that date unknown but would eventually rise to become team legends, were Takis Parafestas, Giannis Valaoras, Dimitris Koukoulitsios and Christos Andreoudis. It was indisputably a healthy set of factors and players, which united the common goal and vision of the entire city, in creating a "model-team". That summer, rookies including Dimitris Mousiaris and Giannis Valaoras signed there first professional contract. These two, along with Dimitrios Koukoulitsios and Ilias Selionis didn't have to wait for too long before becoming part of the youth set up for the Greek national team. On 18 June 1978, AEL traveled to Thessaloniki, and celebrated a massive 4–1 victory against Makedonikos, finishing first with 59 points ahead of Olympiakos Volou, who eventually collected 57 points, enabling the team to return to the Alpha Ethniki, as champions of the Northern Group of the Beta Ethniki. Dimitrios Koukoulitsios, Giannis Valaoras, and Kostas Liapis scored the goals for AEL. The previous 1977–78 season, justified the effort in which AEL finished in third place with 46 points. The balanced combination of experienced and talented players managed to create a strong team that succeeded in gaining the promotion. AEL returned to the Alpha Ethniki and as a result, the solid foundations on which the structure has been set on, guaranteed a 15-year establishment and recognition nationwide.
1980's: The Golden Decade
The successful implementation and careful selection of few experienced and several talented young players continued, with AEL not only threatening opponents, but also starting to build on a bright future, often achieving results showing that something big was in the making. The philosophy set by the team got cultivated by managers such as Yugoslavian Milan Ribar, Kostas Polychroniou, and Antonis Georgiadis. Even though some players selectively exited the team, it was certain that there always was an equal replacement. It was what would become the golden decade, or the era of AEL. In summer 1979, the decision has been taken by the Hellenic Football Federation to turn Greek football professional. The late Antonios Kantonias, raising the prestige and power of his company, Biokarpet, was the one who managed to secure the independence of the club, with exemplary organization and a very clear strategy. The aim of the administration was for the team to reach to the top. Health issues, however, did not allow him to continue as President of the Interim Committee and the chair of the first administration, and was thus replaced by Simos Paleochorlidis.
Grieve for young talents
Unfortunately, the evidence of the power of competitive and organizational work that was achieved at AEL, came to halt in the most tragic way. It was 6 September 1979, when Dimitris Koukoulitsios and Dimitris Mousiaris, were killed in a car crash near Thiva, on their way to Athens for a training session with the U21 Greek national team. Giannis Valaoras, who had survived the accident and overcame the shock, has been one of the greatest members of the team of the 1980's.
The "Small Hamburg": 1981–82 Greek Cup finalists, 1982–83 Greek League runners-up
With a stable administration, new faces on the roster, Kostas Maloumidis, Giannis Galitsios, Giannis Golandas, Theodoros Voutiritsas, Georgios Mitsibonas, and with the experience in leadership of Antonis Georgiadis, AEL was beginning to show its full potential. Best Regional team for the 1980–81 season, AEL claimed a European spot in the final league game. Participation in the Greek Cup final in the summer of 1982, for the first time in its history, resulted in a 0–1 defeat against Panathinaikos. After the historic first final that ended in defeat, AEL did not get intimidated, but instead managed to finish second in the 1982–83 season, for which they even had chances to claim the title after a great victory in the second round against Olympiakos. Eventually, the second place constituted the ultimate fulfillment for Jacek Gmoch's players, who had been under strong denial because of the modest beginning of the team in the first round of the championship.
1983–84 Greek Cup finalists
The legacy left by that season and establishing themselves as team legends was the defender Giorgos Mitsibonas, forward Michalis Ziogas, and Polish international Kazimierz Kmiecik. The team of the 1982–83 season presented modern, fast and sophisticated football and fairly won the nickname "Small Hamburg", taken by the great German team of the 1980's, Hamburger SV. The first European match was a rewarding and meaningful vindication of an effort that lasted several years, even though AEL ultimately failed to overcome the obstacle of Hungarian side Budapest Honvéd.
Austrian manager Walter Skocik had found a good, technical but somewhat tired team. And even if they didn't show steady progress in the league, they managed to be in yet again in the Cup final of 1983–84. On 6 June 1984, AEL once again faced Panathinaikos. This fact, coupled with the modest appearance of AEL, apparently justified, by the intensity of the semi-final battle against Iraklis, which took place just three days prior, and the loss of the suspended Giannis Valaoras, brought an expected 0–2 defeat. The result left AEL in bitterness, which diminished by the qualification for the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, since Panathinaikos had won the double. The following season, president Kostas Samaras and manager Andrzej Strejlau, who brought Krzysztof Adamczyk with him from Poland, were very optimistic about the team's course. Indeed, its participation in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup for the 1984–85 season was impressive and established the name of the Thessalian team on the European football map. AEL managed to reach the quarter-finals, where they gave Dynamo Moscow a tough fight losing just 0–1 on aggregate. The achievements made in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, made a big impression and showed how great this team was and how capable AEL was for even bigger tasks. This team however, which many believed was playing the best football in Greece by that time, was unstoppable and determined to finally overcome the hurdles and claim a title. This title was not the championship, but the Greek Cup, the final of which AEL reached for the third time.
1984–85 Greek Cup Winners
The final against the 1984–85 champions PAOK, has been recorded as one of the top performances in the history of AEL, playing dominant football and defeating the opponent with 4–1, resulting in AEL winning its very first silverware. However, in the pregame of that fight a common point united the two teams. AEL and PAOK lined up before the referee, Makis Germanakos, without their two key players, left back Nikos Patsiavouras and top scorer Christos Dimopoulos, as both of them had agreed on a move to Panathinaikos. As for the actual game, on 22 June 1985, on the Athens Olympic Stadium in front of 30,000 spectators, AEL seemed to have the upper hand from kickoff, but completely started dominating from early, when Vasilis Vasilakos was expelled by a direct red card, after hitting Krzysztof Adamczyk. AEL opened the score with Michalis Ziogas. Right after the second half kick-off Kazimierz Kmiecik extended AEL's lead, and although PAOK reduced shortly after through Giorgos Skartados, Andrzej Strejlau's players sealed the game after Michalis Ziogas and Giannis Valaoras, contributed with their goals to the historic 4–1 of the team. The players who led AEL to its first title were, Georgios Plitsis, Takis Parafestas, Kostas Kolomitrousis, Giannis Galitsios, Georgios Mitsibonas, Theodoros Voutiritsas, Michalis Ziogas, Kazimierz Kmiecik, Krzysztof Adamczyk, Christos Andreoudis, Sakis Tsiolis, and Giannis Valaoras. The first trophy in the clubs history was raised in the sky of Athens the following evening by team captain Takis Parafestas.
Ambitious European battles were awaiting for AEL, but this time the team didn't manage to repeat what has been achieved the previous year and quickly had to bury every dream. The team lost 1–2 on aggregate against Italian side Sampdoria in the first round. Signs of weariness, or perhaps the loss of Kazimierz Kmiecik to Stuttgarter Kickers played a big role in leaving Europe sooner than planned. His compatriot, Janusz Kupcewicz, who replaced him, although came right from the Polish lineup of the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain, had injury problems and did not help as much as he could. At that time, the culmination of a transfer thriller, a player who was acquired by Toxotis Larissa and dressed in crimson, making his first professional steps and later nicknamed "the magician", Vassilis Karapialis. His own introduction, along with two to three other important events, painted the following year, the most indifferent season for AEL of that decade. The assumption of command by Stelios Kantonias and the return of Jacek Gmoch as manager, were guarantees for a great offense for the new season. No paint, but it was stronger than the black of mourning, which darkened the sky of Larissa. 19 years old Vasilis Theodoridis, a PAOK supporter, an hour before the match hurled a fishing flare against the local fans stands which hit the unsuspecting Charalambos Blionas in the carotid arteries. The unfortunate professor died seconds later. That day, on 26 October 1986, a grievous page was written in the history of Greek football and as though nothing is more important than the loss of a life, unequivocally just one year later, the city of Larissa has experienced glorious times. The only team in the Greek region who ever sat on the throne.
The "Miracle of 1988": Greek Champions
The road ahead was not a bed of roses. The non-renewal of contracts of Takis Parafestas and Christos Andreoudis, in the summer, and the transfer of Georgios Plitsis to Olympiakos in December, were decisions that were not accepted by the fans, but the success of the team in conjunction with the "rising star" of Vassilis Karapialis, minimized any opposition disposal. Especially when on 16 March 1988 the sports court announced the decision to deduct four points from AEL due to a doping case of the Bulgarian striker Georgi Tsingov. He was tested positive on the use of the substance Codeine, which though is not likely to improve the performance of an athlete. Conspiracy theories quoted around about what really happened, the player claimed that had a flu, others that it was a sabotage. Nevertheless, the whole city of Larissa gathered in an uprise and in no time created road blocks that cut Greece in two, claiming the right of what the team had won over the football field. The barricades on the national highway lasted for a whole five days until the political leadership of sports intervened. They took the decision to restore order, and change the article in question. From 21 March 1988, teams ceased to be considered responsible for each possible doped athlete. AEL however, was largely responsible for the psychological "doping" of the fans, which then helped to overcome doubt and anxiety and get proudly in the 87th minute of the penultimate game of the season against Iraklis Thessaloniki, when an incredible shot by Georgios Mitsibonas made the Alcazar Stadium shake. So far, AEL is the first and only regional team that won the Greek championship.
Countdown and "Stone Years" (1996–2003)
In a slow but steady process things started going downhill, just as AEL had reached the top. The circle of a large team had closed. Things could've been different if Neuchâtel Xamax had not turned the match around in the second leg of the European Cup, enabling AEL to continue its journey in the highest European tournament. This was the last presence for AEL in the most prestigious club competition in European football. The fans still believed that the team could stay in the spotlight. The accident was for those who were blurred by the excitement of the moment, and believed that the team could climb even higher and soon demanded the change of ownership. From there, players leaving and coming, administrations changed without programming, independently on the intentions of everyone. The fact is that AEL gradually lost its credibility inside and outside stadiums and inevitably led eight years later, in May 1996, to the relegation which was spared in 1991, due to an incredible second round course. More generally, although great players such as Lefter Millos, Ştefan Stoica, Paulo Da Silva, David Embé and Vangelis Tsoukalis, wore the shirt and tried to return the team to its former glory, times had changed. AEL returned to the Beta Ethniki after 18 years.
More tragic than the relegation of AEL was the loss of Giorgos Mitsibonas on 13 September 1997 who was killed in a car accident near the village of Giannouli, 2 km outside of Larissa. He was only thirty five and left behind his wife and his two young daughters. Even if he was not by that time an active player of the team, the whole city bid farewell to him. The conscientious efforts of local factors to keep the club standing were unsuccessful, the debts piled in between, and no one was able by summer of 2001, to save the team. AEL fell for the first time in its history tn the Gamma Ethniki, and even threatened with disintegration, with relegation to the Regional Championship, and had to get to the bottom to lift its head again, taking advantage of the beneficial law of special clearance.
Flirting with the Delta Ethniki
Summer of 2002, AEL arrived at its worst point in its history, playing again in the Gamma Ethniki, almost without administration and money. The team's preparation for the new season was held in the local Alcazar Park, a place with rustic picnic areas, benches and trails, totally unsuitable for professional football training, near the city of Larissa. The first game was held on 25 August 2002 in Kalochori, Thessaloniki, against the local side ILTEX Lykoi. It was the 84th minute of the match, when the second Assistant referee fell down after he was hit in the back, by an object that was thrown from the stands of the guest fans and was taken to the hospital. He claimed that he was unable to continue and the game never finished, with the result standing at 1–1. The team was penalized with a deduction of three points in the league table. Amateur players and volunteers were called to offer their services. The course was naturally very poor and the team risked with the relegation to the Delta Ethniki. Halfway through the season the name of Nikos Sotiroulis made its round, a local businessman who by that time was the club's one and only sponsor. Along with Giorgos Katsogiannis and supporting factors of Amateur AEL Elias Fasoulas and Zissis Helidonis, he fought the first negative judgments and vindicated, when on 8 March 2003 he became the owner of the team with a cost of 116,000 Euros in an auction that was held the previous day and in which he was the only candidate. The club a year later, was renamed to AEL 1964 FC, under the special conditions imposed by the law of special clearance, and celebrated its return to the Beta Ethniki. Some months prior, on 1 June 2003, the team managed to not get relegated into the Delta Ethniki and thereby get dissolved, in the last game of the championship against Niki Volou, winning 1–0. Although, the most crucial and exciting match in the teams "stone years" history was the one before, that was held in Chania, where AEL tied 3–3 and stayed alive, condemning the hosts. The new period started then vigorously with just one and only target, the promotion, which was achieved after an exhausting marathon of 38 games. On 30 May 2004, at Alcazar Stadium, AEL sealed the second place and the ticket to the higher category, which was ensured by a 1–0 victory against ILTEX Lykoi just a week before, in the same ground, and almost two years after the incident with the Assistant referee, crashing Pontiakos Nea Santa by 5–1, while the chant "we are coming back" was rocking the crowded stadium. Coached by Takis Parafestas, with players such as Kostas Katsaras, Zisis Ziagkas, Thomas Kyparissis, Nikos Kehagias, Theodosis Theodosiadis, Dimitris Kontodimos, Rastislav Jan Lazorik, Thanasis Paleologos, and a new upsurge of the fans that followed everywhere, the team impressed with their performance. The one who left, and was the initiator and founder of this effort was Nikos Sotiroulis, who after a few days in mid-June 2004, gave way to the new owner and chairman Kostas Piladakis. A new era had begun.
New Age (2004–13): Piladakis Years
New management, technical leadership headed by Giorgos Donis, players such as the effective striker Thomas Kyparissis and the presence of supporters that caused admiration through Greece, led AEL back again to the top division of Greek football after nine years of absence. The 19 transfers that were made in the summer of 2004 radically changed the composition of the workforce and the equally young and ambitious coach had time to give the team the required homogeneity. The moderate start was treated by all with patience and maturity, and the proper corrections that were made in January, enabled AEL to march from success to success. The conquest of the first place with 58 points was the natural consequence of teams effort, with the fans celebrating the return to the Alpha Ethniki after nine "stone years", for almost 10 days. Starting from Sunday 15 May 2005, in Kastoria, (1–1) in front of 4,000 fans who accompanied the teams bus when returning, a car convoy of 5 km in length and a midnight party at Alcazar, to Wednesday 25, and the fiesta that was set up to the stadium for winning the title after beating Proodeftiki (3–1). Except Thomas Kyparissis, Giannis Papakostas, Zisis Ziagkas, Thanasis Paleologos, Vasilis Floros and Grigoriou, who continued from the previous season, players such as Spyros Christopoulos, Fotis Kipouros, Panagiotis Bahramis, Dimitris Gikas, Vaggelis Stournaras, Marco Förster, Panagiotis Katsiaros, Angelos Digozis, Dimitris Tsiatsios, Makris, Thierry Modo Abouna, Ivan Nedeljković, Mirnes Sisic, Georgios Passios, Andreas Chatziliontas, Georgios Galitsios and others, came to add their names to important pages in the teams history. Besides them, from summer until December 2004 the first Greek active scorer Alexis Alexandris and a well-known name in European football, Romanian international midfielder Dennis Şerban, who played in many major teams. During the same season, while in the Beta Ethniki, AEL reached the quarter-final of the Greek Cup, being eliminated by Skoda Xanthi 4–2 on aggregate. It was the forerunner of the great return.
In the Elite: Greek Cup Winners & European competition
In the first year after its return to the big category AEL managed a transfer coup by bringing in the UEFA Euro 2004 champion and former captain of the Greek national football team Nikos Dabizas in summer 2005. A move that was made to strengthen the defense while sending the message that AEL did not just return to the Alpha Ethniki, but intended to shine. AEL managed an impressive 8th place in its return, and a European opportunity occurred through the invitation to the UEFA Intertoto Cup, exploiting the weakness of PAOK to fulfill the criteria of UEFA. A European return, with two games against Turkish side Kayserispor did not bring the hoped qualification to the UEFA Cup, as the team got beaten 0–2 on aggregate. The 2006–07 season was one of its most successful, but also one of the most controversial in the clubs modern history. On the bright side, AEL rose again to the throne of Greek Cup, managing its second victory, but on the other side struggled with fighting against relegation, eventually managing to secure their place in the last matchday.
2006–07 Greek Cup Winners
5 May 2007, became a new landmark in the history of AEL. Giorgos Donis and his players brought the Cup back home after 22 years, creating a new benchmark in the glorious march of the team. Cup in 1985, the 1988 Championship, and a Cup again in 2007 in Volos where the games MVP Nikos Dabizas and the vice captain, Zisis Ziagkas both lifted the third major trophy in the teams history. Opponents in the final, once again, was Panathinaikos, but in which AEL this time had the upper-hand winning 2–1.AEL also secured the participation in the UEFA Cup, making the team play European matches for the second consecutive year. Jozef Kožlej and Henry Antchouet, took the baton from Michalis Ziogas, Kazimierz Kmiecik and Giannis Valaoras. The Slovakian striker opened the scoring in just the third minute with a perfect header following a free kick from Giorgos Fotakis. Dimitris Papadopoulos equalized with a penalty caused by Marco Förster and masterfully executed in the 44th, however, Henry Antchouet was the player who held the final say. In the 83rd minute the "Gabonese Arrow" poured on the offensive after the exemplary deep ball of Giorgos Fotakis and smashed the ball past goalkeeper Pierre Ebéde, marking the 2–1 that was meant to be the final score. The final whistle of Kyros Vassaras found over 10,000 fans of the team ecstatic singing "because we have lost our minds, this Cup is ours", giving rise to frantic celebration. The celebration began at Panthessaliko Stadium from the award of the precious trophy, continued to Alcazar Stadium who opened its gates to welcome the winners and ended in the Central Square of Larissa shortly after midnight.
The new season started with the best of omens. AEL, being the Cup winner, represented Greece in the UEFA Cup and the draw brought its manager, Giorgos Donis, faced with the club in which he started his international football career, English side Blackburn Rovers. AEL entered the first qualifying round as the clear underdog, but in the afternoon of 20 September 2007 at the Panthessaliko Stadium, since Alcazar Stadium did not comply to the UEFA regulations, the team caused a shocker by winning 2–0 in the first match, and losing 2–1 in the second game of Ewood Park, which resulted AEL proceeding to the group stages. In the group stages AEL faced powerful teams such as English side Everton, Dutch side AZ Alkmaar, Germans 1. FC Nürnberg, and the subsequent 2008 UEFA Cup winners Russian side Zenit Saint Petersburg. The team failed to pick a point in the four games, but won the respect that was confirmed by great European coaches, which AEL found opposite in this journey as Louis van Gaal and Dick Advocaat. liberated from the burden of European obligations and with the assistance of world class players as Maciej Żurawski and Tümer Metin. A bittersweet epilogue to one of the most successful season in the teams history. Confirming the ever upward steps at all levels AEL recorded in 2008–09, making it one of the most successful years in its modern history. Staying thirteen consecutive matches undefeated resulted in an incredible 5th place finish in the Superleague and ensured its entry into the play-offs in the UEFA Europa League for the third time in the last four years and for just the third time in its history through the championship. It is a year in which AEL, among other things, broke two traditions, by winning in the Kaftanzoglio Stadium against Iraklis Thessaloniki for the first time since 1982, and Olympiacos in the Karaiskakis Stadium after 26 years.
While things seemed glorious once again, everything changed shortly after and led AEL back to the Football League. Wrong assessments and decisions regarding the completion of the team roster, and the leaving of the players who provided the guarantee of a remarkable and steady body. But much more decisive was the relentless chase of the team on the part of arbitration. The European exclusion from the weak Icelandic KR Reykjavík due to mainly the poor squad and preparation in the summer 2009 brought the first clouds. The unexpected death of the late Mexican striker Antonio de Nigris on 16 November, brought grieve to what already had been a difficult time for the team. AEL managed to keep its position in the penultimate game of the season, changing manager Giannis Papakostas for Marinos Ouzounidis and achieving five wins in the last seven games of the season. The prospect of the entry into the new stadium, the AEL FC Arena, and the feeling that the near-mishap last season had taught a lesson, created expectations of great things for the 2010–11 season, accompanied by large investments in player transfers. The transition from the historic Alcazar Stadium into the newly built AEL FC Arena in late November–early December 2010, was not made in the way that every fan had hoped and dreamed of. Two defeats by Panionios (0–1) and PAOK (1–2), spoiled the festive atmosphere, but above all it was the shadow of arbitration that created a bleak future again. Grossly injusticed over the first half of the season, for nearly 13 games, with catalytic decisions that shaped scores and results, AEL had an unequal fight until the end, changing managers and trying to strengthen the squad but finally relented. Even the most pessimistic would hardly imagine at the beginning of that year that AEL, in a new stadium and with star-players such as Nikos Dabizas, Stylianos Venetidis, Daniel Cousin, Fabian Canobbio, Tümer Metin, Stathis Tavlaridis Kamil Čontofalský, and Fabrice Pancrate would finish in the penultimate position and eventually get relegated. However, the harsh reality was obliging the "crimsons" in a new calvary, for which they were not themselves responsible, at least not entirely. The revelation of the match fixing scandal that occurred in early summer 2011 was only moral justification for the club and nothing more. After a barrage of outright decisions and scandalous implementation of sports legislation by the Professional Sports Committee and the Hellenic Football Federation, with selective application of regulations that was completed after almost six months in October, the club remained in the Football League.
After the clubs relegation and a final attempt to vindicate without much effort, Kostas Piladakis began building the team that would immediately return to the Superleague. He hired the experienced and reputable manager Chris Coleman, and along with him players of International range such as Zequinha, Luís Boa Morte, Césinha, and many others. The course of the team in the 2011–12 season started with the best omens, but soon all would be reversed. Financial problems started appearing again and eventually led the Chris Coleman and many of the players to leave the team. Rupture between the owner and the organized fans substantially undermined the future of the team. Kostas Piladakis resigned and the club without any administration and financial support, deliberately relegated to the Gamma Ethniki. A move that is used by many football teams in Greece and is based on a financial law, made to ensure the deletion of the previous debts, as teams that competing in the Gamma Ethniki are considered amateurs. In summer 2013, Evangelos Plexidas, a local businessman from Trikala took over and promised immediate return. Although the team promoted relatively easy from the Football League 2, and also won the Football League 2 Cup, and the 2013–14 Amateurs' Super Cup many incorrect choices about the teams administration and management were not accepted by the fans. The changing of six managers in a single season (2014–15) and the leaving of almost 15 players, although the team managed to participate in the Football League Play-Offs but failed to promote, created again a poor situation that led the major shareholder in the decision to sell the majority stake of his shares to Alexis Kougias, a well-known Greek lawyer and football administrator, in July 2015. A year later, on 15 May 2016, the team finally gained the promotion into the Superleague. In clear contrast with the last time, however, there was little enthusiasm among the fans, as Kougias had longtime conflicts with them as well as the local community and veterans of the team. The first season back in top flight was a difficult one, with three managers employed, Sakis Tsiolis left almost immediately after the clubs promotion on 2 June 2016, only to return five months later to replace Angelos Anastasiadis, who took over the previous summer. He managed to keep his place on the bench until 21 March 2017, when he resigned for personal reasons. Thus, despite relative financial stability the team struggled on and off the pitch, yet managed to keep its top flight status by finishing 13th, just above the relegation places. After one match in charge by careteker Theodoros Voutiritsas, Alexis Kougias hired Dutch André Paus, who managed to stay for only seven games as the clubs manager. On 14 September 2017, Belgian manager Jacky Mathijssen was announced, and signed a contract until the end of the season. Despite that, 11 Days after taking charge, and after only three games, 0–0 home draw with Atromitos, a 4–1 away loss against Panionios, and a 2–0 loss against Panathinaikos in the Greek Cup, he was fired. Ilias Fyntanis, the clubs previous assistant coach returned as a caretaker and Kougias hired the third manager for the ongoing season, Apostolos Mantzios. A day later, Mantzios announced that due to serious personal reasons he cannot take over. Ever since, Ilias Fyntanis is the clubs manager, resulting in the team showing a more stable performance.
- Superleague Greece (Alpha Ethniki)
- Greek Cup
- Winners (2): 1984–85, 2006–07
- Runners-Up (2): 1981–82, 1983–84
- Semifinals (3): 1987–88, 1988–89, 2005–06
- Quarterfinals (9): 1979–80, 1986–87, 1989–90, 1990–91, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1994–95, 2004–05, 2007–08
- Round of 16 (1): 2015–16
- Fifth Round (2): 2008–09, 2010–11
- Fourth Round (2): 2009–10, 2011–12
- Third Round (2): 1998–99, 2012–13
- Second Round (2): 1995–96, 1996–97
- First Round (13): 1978–79, 1980–81, 1982–83, 1985–86, 1991–92, 1997–98, 1999–00, 2000–01, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2003–04, 2014–15, 2016–17
- Greek Super Cup
- Runners-Up (2): 1988, 2007
- Football League (Beta Ethniki)
- Football League 2 (Gamma Ethniki)
- Winners (1): 2013–14
- Runners-Up (1): 2003–04
- Football League 2 Cup
- Winners (1): 2013–14
- Amateurs' Super Cup
- Winners (1): 2013–14
- UEFA Cup Winners' Cup
- UEFA Cup
- UEFA Intertoto Cup
- Third Round (1): 2006
- European Cup
- First Round (1): 1988–89
Crest and colours
Colours and Kit evolution
The team's colours have been crimson and white since the formation of the club in 1964.
AEL FC Arena overview
AEL FC Arena is the home ground of AEL. It is a UEFA 3-star rated stadium and has a seating capacity of 16,118 all covered. As well as functioning as a football stadium, Arena also operates as a conference centre and music venue. Actual construction of the stadium lasted 14 months, beginning in September 2009 and ended in late November 2010. From May 2013 until September 2015, the team played its home games in the old Alcazar Stadium, due to economic disputes concerning the rent of the stadium between the owning company (Gipedo Larissa AE) and the precedent chairman, Evangelos Plexidas. On 22 July 2015, the club's new major shareholder Alexis Kougias, promised in an interview that the team will return and compete for the season 2015–16 in the Arena. Indeed, on 26 August 2015, there was an agreement and an official announcement of the new season's tickets for the stadium. By April 2017, the team still competes in AEL FC Arena.
AEL has its own training facilities in the area of the village Dendra, near to the town of Tyrnavos. Those facilities cover over 30,000 square meters, have multisport purposes for all of the team's athletes and among the others include:
- 3 football fields (1 used by the first team, with 1.500 seats capacity and 1 for the U21 team's official matches.)
- 1 football field with artificial turf.
- Hosting area for the First and Reserves teams.
- Rooms for tactical purposes.
- Press room.
- Changing rooms.
- Parking services.
AEL fans In Kalamata during a game in February 2005
AEL fans In Veria during a game in January 2008
Monsters supporters Club in Alcazar Stadium
Monsters is the largest AE Larissa FC supporters club. The first attempt to organise the team's supporters was made on 31 March 1982 during the game against Diagoras 30 fans that belonged to the older but old-fashioned club Ierolochites gathered in the Gate D of the old Alcazar Stadium that was meant to be the legendary Gate-1 afterwards. Monsters club was formed as an idea of having a true and passionate support to the team without restrictions or boundaries.
The fans tend to use various styles and sizes of banners and flags bearing the name and symbols of their club and have been following the team since the first day everywhere in Greece and Europe.
Monsters have a strong relationship with German team 1. FC Nürnberg's supporter's club called Ultras Nürnberg 1994 or just UN-94. Fans of both clubs often lift banners and create choreography in support of the fellow teams.
- Most Appearances: Giannis Galitsios (399)
- Most Goals: Giannis Valaoras (73)
- Biggest Home Win: AEL 8–2 Kavala (1981–82)
- Biggest Away Win: Veria 2–5 AEL (1987–88)
- Most Wins in a Season: 18 (1982–83, 1987–88)
- Most Points in a Season: 49 (2008–09)
- Record Home Attendance: AEL 2–1 Panathinaikos (18,493, Alcazar Stadium, 27 December 1987)
All records, counted for the Superleague and former Alpha Ethniki championships.
The 1988 Championship line-up and the 1985, 2007 Cup winning line-ups:
- As of 8 September 2017
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Out on loan
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
- Players of the U-20 squad with professional contract
Notable Former Players
UEFA Team Ranking 2013/14
As of 16 September 2013
|1981–82||Balkans Cup||1st Round||17 Nëntori Tirana||3–1||0–3||3–4|
|1983–84||UEFA Cup||1st Round||Budapest Honvéd||2–0||0–3 (a.e.t.)||2–3|
|1984–85||UEFA Cup Winners' Cup||1st Round||Siófok Bányász SK||2–0||1–1||3–1|
|2nd Round||Servette FC||2–1||1–0||3–1|
|1985–86||UEFA Cup Winners' Cup||1st Round||Sampdoria||1–1||0–1||1–2|
|1988–89||European Cup||1st Round||Neuchâtel Xamax||2–1||1–2 (0–3 p)||3–3|
|2006||UEFA Intertoto Cup||3rd Round||Kayserispor||0–0||0–2||0–2|
|2007–08||UEFA Cup||1st Round||Blackburn Rovers||2–0||1–2||3–2|
|Zenit St. Petersburg||2–3||–|
|1. FC Nürnberg||1–3||–|
|2009–10||UEFA Europa League||2nd Qual. Round||KR Reykjavík||1–1||0–2||1–3|
|1964–65||Beta Ethniki (II)||5th||15–4–11||34–30||64||AEL 4–0 Apollon Larissa|
|1965–66||Beta Ethniki||3rd||15–9–6||39–30||69||AEL 4–2 Chalkida|
|1966–67||Beta Ethniki||10th||10–10–12||38–45||62||AEL 4–0 Kozani|
|1967–68||Beta Ethniki||14th||9–8–13||33–42||55||AEL 5–3 Lamia|
|1968–69||Beta Ethniki||17th||11–4–19||37–43||60||AEL 5–0 Edessaikos|
|1969–70||Beta Ethniki||13th||9–11–14||34–45||63||AEL 3–0 Orestis Orestiada|
|1970–71||Beta Ethniki||4th||15–15–4||39–25||79||AEL 4–0 Aris Agios Konstantinos|
|1971–72||Beta Ethniki||2nd||26–6–6||71–25||96||AEL 5–0 Makedonikos|
|1972–73||Beta Ethniki||1st||27–6–5||68–19||98||Petralona 0–5 AEL|
|1973–74||Alpha Ethniki (I)||9th||11–10–13||31–40||32||AEL 3–1 Apollon Athens|
|1974–75||Alpha Ethniki||18th||5–7–22||24–59||17||AEL 4–1 Kastoria|
|1975–76||Beta Ethniki||5th||15–12–11||58–42||42||AEL 5–1 Xanthi|
|1976–77||Beta Ethniki||3rd||19–8–11||63–40||46||AEL 6–0 Panthrakikos|
|1977–78||Beta Ethniki||1st||25–9–4||58–17||59||Makedonikos 1–4 AEL|
|1978–79||Alpha Ethniki||12th||15–5–19||34–53||29||AEL 2–0 Panserraikos|
|1979–80||Alpha Ethniki||8th||13–8–13||33–44||34||AEL 3–0 Iraklis|
|1980–81||Alpha Ethniki||6th||14–9–11||42–40||37||AEL 6–2 Kastoria|
|1981–82||Alpha Ethniki||10th||12–7–15||40–38||31||AEL 8–2 Kavala|
|1982–83||Alpha Ethniki||2nd||18–9–7||54–27||45||AEL 5–1 Ethnikos Piraeus|
|1983–84||Alpha Ethniki||6th||13–6–11||28–29||32||AEL 3–0 Ethnikos Piraeus|
|1984–85||Alpha Ethniki||6th||14–7–9||55–35||35||AEL 5–0 Panionios|
|1985–86||Alpha Ethniki||8th||12–6–12||36–31||30||AEL 3–0 OFI|
|1986–87||Alpha Ethniki||9th||10–5–15||24–31||25||AEL 3–1 OFI|
|1987–88||Alpha Ethniki||1st||18–7–5||51–22||43||Veria 2–5 AEL|
|1988–89||Alpha Ethniki||6th||10–14–6||37–34||34||AEL 4–0 Panionios|
|1989–90||Alpha Ethniki||8th||12–10–12||35–38||34||AEL 3–0 Apollon Kalamaria|
|1990–91||Alpha Ethniki||12th||10–9–15||38–46||29||Giannina 0–3 AEL|
|1991–92||Alpha Ethniki||8th||11–9–14||40–46||31||AEL 4–0 Panionios|
|1992–93||Alpha Ethniki||7th||11–10–13||36–42||43||AEL 5–2 Panachaiki|
|1993–94||Alpha Ethniki||10th||11–9–14||45–53||42||AEL 5–0 Panionios|
|1994–95||Alpha Ethniki||11th||11–7–16||41–46||40||AEL 6–1 Xanthi|
|1995–96||Alpha Ethniki||16th||9–7–18||32–64||37||AEL 4–1 Panachaiki|
|1996–97||Beta Ethniki||6th||15–10–9||44–32||55||AEL 5–2 Apollon Kalamaria|
|1997–98||Beta Ethniki||9th||11–13–10||37–42||46||AEL 3–0 Edessaikos|
|1998–99||Beta Ethniki||8th||13–7–14||45–47||46||AEL 4–1 Apollon Kalamaria|
|1999–00||Beta Ethniki||6th||16–7–11||55–39||55||Anagennisi Karditsa 1–7 AEL|
|2000–01||Beta Ethniki||15th||8–6–16||28–41||30||AEL 2–0 Panelefsiniakos|
|2001–02||Gamma Ethniki (III)||7th||12–6–12||37–34||42||AEL 4–1 Ethnikos Piraeus|
|2002–03||Gamma Ethniki||15th||11–13–14||33–40||43||AEL 3–0 Chania|
|2003–04||Gamma Ethniki||2nd||24–5–9||58–34||77||AEL 5–1 Pontiakos Nea Santa|
|2004–05||Beta Ethniki||1st||17–7–6||56–25||58||AEL 6–0 Atromitos|
|2005–06||Alpha Ethniki||8th||10–9–11||31–37||39||AEL 4–1 Apollon Kalamaria|
|2006–07||Superleague||10th||9–9–12||30–38||36||AEL 3–0 Ionikos|
|2007–08||Superleague||6th||11–12–7||35–30||45||AEL 5–1 OFI|
|2008–09||Superleague||5th||12–13–5||36–26||49||AEL 3–0 Thrasyvoulos|
|2009–10||Superleague||8th||10–7–13||31–42||37||Panionios 0–3 AEL|
|2010–11||Superleague||14th||5–10–15||29–47||25||AEL 3–0 Xanthi|
|2011–12||Football League||10th||11–10–13||38–29||43||AEL 5–2 Anagennisi Epanomi|
|2012–13||Football League||9th||16–15–9||42–25||63||AEL 5–0 Fokikos|
|2013–14||Gamma Ethniki||1st||23–4–3||87–14||73||AEL 6–0 Keravnos Thesprotiko|
|2014–15||Football League||2nd||14–3–7||27–11||45||AEL 4–0 Ethnikos Serres|
|2015–16||Football League||1st||24–6–4||49–15||78||AEL 3–0 AO Chania|
|2016–17||Superleague||13th||6–10–14||23–42||28||AEL 2–0 Panionios|
|2017–18||Superleague||7th||5–5–5||14–21||20||Lamia 0–2 AEL|
- Point system: 1959–60 to 1972–73: 3–2–1. 1973–74 to 1991–92: 2–1–0. 1992–93 onwards: 3–1–0.
- In the season 2012–13 the team gained 63 points but was penalized due to financial problems (−18 points in the final table) and finished 13th.
As of May 2017
As of July 2009
|UEFA Cup Winners' Cup||2||8||3||3||2||7–5||+2||37.50|
|UEFA Intertoto Cup||1||2||0||1||1||0–2||–2||0.00|
|UEFA Europa League||1||2||0||1||1||1–3||–2||0.00|
|A' Vice-Chairman||Ilias Paleochorlidis|
|B' Vice-Chairman||Stavros Poularakis|
|C' Vice-Chairman||Nikos Sofis|
|Chief executive officer||Sotiris Markou|
|Board Member||Charalampos Tsiampalas|
|Amateur AEL Representative||Nikos Hatzoulis|
|First Team Staff|
|Head coach||Ilias Fyntanis|
|Assistant Coach||Andreas Lavdarias|
|Goalkeepers coach||Theodoros Kantas|
|Fitness coach||Vassilis Kalapotharakos|
|Technical Director||Vassilis Vanis|
|Head Doctor||Giorgos Basdekis|
|Football analyst||Zisis Ziagkas|
|Youth Teams & Academy Coaching Staff|
|Academy general manager||Apostolos Livanos|
|Academy goalkeeping coach||TBA|
|U-20 Head coach||TBA|
|U-17 Head coach||Zisis Ziagkas|
|U-15 head coach||Vasilis Naris|
Kit manufacturers and Sponsorship
- Main Shirt Sponsor: TBA
- Second Shirt Sponsor: TBA
- Shorts Sponsor: TBA
- Official Sport Clothing Manufacturer: Legea
- Great Sponsor: TBA
- Great Sponsor: TBA
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- "Larissa (Greece)-Blackburn(England) Uefa 2007–08 Highlights". youtube. 21 September 2007.
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