Former Anorthosis Famagusta FC goalkeeper Nicos Panayiotou believes the Cypriot club's fans have a lot to look forward to as they prepare to celebrate their centenary on Sunday.
Despite great success in past decades, Anorthosis have experienced turbulence more recently, with six coaches coming and going without a single trophy won. However, the picture finally looks brighter following the arrival of new boss Stanimir Stoilov a month ago. The subsequent 2-0 win over First Division leaders APOEL FC and 4-0 drubbing of AEL Limassol FC may have signalled a revival.
"Every club has its ups and downs and we are no exception," explained Panayiotou. "Anorthosis have gone through a difficult period, especially in the last six months of 2010, but I believe things are getting back on track. Anorthosis have a lot of history and supporters' expectations to live up to."
Anorthosis made history in 2008 when they got through three qualifying rounds to become the first team from the Mediterranean island to reach the UEFA Champions League group stage. It was a moment of triumph for the club, who have been based in Larnaca since 1974, when conflict in Cyprus forced them to abandon their now derelict home, the GSE Stadium, in Famagusta.
"The secret of Anorthosis's success has been the thirst for glory, not just of the club itself but from the supporters," the 40-year-old Panayiotou told UEFA.com. "After 1974, all the correct foundations were laid to rebuild the club and make them a side that could challenge for trophies." Sure enough, after Nicosia giants APOEL and AC Omonia, Anorthosis are the country's most-titled team with 13 league championships and ten Cyprus Cups.
Of his own time with Megali Kyria (The Old Lady), Panayiotou – who made 293 appearances over 17 years at Anorthosis – said: "The club really peaked during the 1990s and we won a lot of titles, but I believe the defining moments came when we eliminated Trabzonspor [from the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round] and then made it through to the Champions League group stage."
That latter achievement owed much to the skills of Georgian player-turned-coach Temuri Ketsbaia, yet the club's honorary chairman Kikis Konstantinou also deserves a mention according to Panayiotou. "For me, both men have written themselves into the club's folklore."
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