They were founded in a sweet shop, their fans wear orange for no obvious reason and they once lost 16-1 in a UEFA game; UEFA.com gets the inside line on Cyprus's most successful club.
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APOEL have reached the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League for the first time this season and have no reason to be afraid as they welcome Anderlecht. UEFA.com hails 'The Legend'.
Nickname: Thrylos (The Legend)
UEFA club competition honours
Domestic honours (most recent triumph in brackets)
• League title: 25 (2016)
• Cypriot Cup: 21 (2015)
• They are the most successful club in Cypriot football. With 25 league titles and 21 Cypriot Cups, no one can match APOEL's domestic haul, and they are out on their own in continental terms too. Having reached the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals in 2011/12, they have achieved a similar feat – and another national first – with their UEFA Europa League last-16 place. "We dream big and that is why we secure big results," explained captain Nuno Morais.
• They were formed by workers from a sweet shop. A group of 40 employees at Charalambos Hadjioannou's confectionery business in Nicosia founded POEL (Podosferikos Omilos Ellinon Lefkosias – literally: Football Club Greeks Nicosia) on 8 November 1926 to represent the city's Greek population. Two years later they added an 'A' to become an athletics association too.
• APOEL gave birth to their main rivals. A political dispute among APOEL members in 1948 culminated in several being expelled from the association, with many then banding together in a newly-established club Omonia. In 117 derby games since the first encounter in 1953, APOEL have won 64 to Omonia's 55. They will hope to better Omonia again when they take on Anderlecht – a side who eliminated their city rivals in two previous UEFA ties.
• APOEL remain the biggest losers in UEFA competition history. They lost 16-1 to Sporting CP in a European Cup Winners' Cup match in Lisbon on 13 November 1963 – the biggest losing margin in any men's senior UEFA fixture – though there were mitigating circumstances. "The major factor was the weather," former striker Andreas Stylianou told UEFA.com. "It was pouring down and we didn't have proper boots with studs for grass, only ones for gravel. You can imagine how difficult it was to control the ball. We were slipping all over the place."
- Bad trips: miserable European away journeys
• Their fans wear orange for no apparent reason. Despite the team's main colours being yellow and blue, fans prefer orange – hence their nickname, 'I Portokali' (the oranges). Why? Legend has it that, in the early 1990s, fashion-forward APOEL supporters turned their then vogueish black bomber jackets inside out to show off the orange lining.
• At their peak, they did not quite put Nicosia on the map. As the club basked in relative UEFA Champions League glory in 2012, an APOEL player was invited to be interviewed by American news channel CNN. However, fans in Cyprus were disappointed to see the accompanying TV graphic pinpointing Nicosia as being in Sicily rather than Cyprus. For the record, there is also a Nicosia on the Italian island.
• Nuno Morais is a modern-day master at APOEL. Now 33, the former Chelsea defensive midfielder has been at the club since 2007, contributing to six league championships and three Cypriot Cups. The one-time Portuguese Under-21 international also helped APOEL get into the UEFA Champions League three times, and – with 89 outings – holds the club record for most European appearances.
• They have at least one player Belgian fans will know well. Brazilian-born striker Igor De Camargo played in Belgium for 13 years, being capped nine times by the Red Devils. However, the 33-year-old has been sharing the APOEL limelight with local talent, with Cypriot internationals Pieros Sotiriou and George Efrem stars of the current campaign.
• APOEL will be hosting a Barcelona reunion in the 9 March first leg against Anderlecht. Their Brussels-born second-choice keeper Urko Pardo played alongside Anderlecht custodian Martínez Rubén in the youth ranks at Camp Nou, also competing for a spot in Barça's B team for a few seasons before going their separate ways.
• They have never overcome Belgian opponents – but there's always a first time. Their six UEFA meetings with Club Brugge, Lierse and most recently Zulte Waregem left APOEL with the record D1 L5, though their round of 32 scalp of Athletic Club offers huge encouragement. Prior to the second leg against the Bilbao outfit, they had not beaten a Liga side in 15 attempts. They have now.