Sotiris Kaiafas

Sotiris Kaiafas (born December 17, 1949 in Mia Milia,Nicosia) is a Cypriot football player who played for AC Omonia Nicosia and Cypriot national team. Some consider him the best ever Cypriot football player.

He is king among Cypriot strikers. In a career spanning more than 18 years, Kaiafas was eight times top scorer in Cyprus's first division. And with a total of just under 300 league goals, he fired his beloved AC Omonia to the league championship on six occasions.

He joined the Nicosia-based AC Omonia as a 16-year-old and he joined the first team in 1967. But it was not until the early 1970s that he served notice of his talent. In the 1971/72 season, Kaiafas was leading marksman 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 star players of the day including Andreas Stylianou, Panicos Efthymiades and Leonidas Leonidou, became a cult hero to the fans. At a time when football was played on gravel, not grass, and its practitioners paid only a pittance by clubs, there was a close connection between players and watchers.

Kaiafas finished as top domestic goalscorer in another seven seasons (1973/74, 1975/76, 1976/77, 1978/79, 1979/80, 1980/81 and 1981/82). But his greatest success was in 1975/76. An astonishing haul of 39 league goals was unmatched across Europe and won him the European Golden Boot award. He is the only Cypriot football player he has achieved that success. However his greatest compaign (and greatest compaign in Cypriot League ever) was in season 1976/77 with 44 goals. He is also the top scorer in the history of Cypriot football by scoring 324 goals total with AC Omonia and Cyprus National Team and also he was awarded by Cyprus Sports Journalist Union as the best Athlete of the Year in 1976 and 1978 and some other awards as the Football Player of the Year. Beside to his individual awards, he won with -his team Omonia Nicosia- many trophies; 11 Cypriot Championships, 6 Cypriot Cups, 5 doubles and 5 Cyprus FA Shields (Super Cups).

On November 7, 1979, Kaiafas achieved one of his greatest feats at club level, scoring a hat-trick for Omonia as they sprang a surprise by thrashing Dutch side Ajax 4-0 in the second leg of a European Cup second-round tie (although Ajax had won the first leg 10-0).

He won 18 caps for the Cyprus national team, scoring just two goals. His job here was particularly difficult as Cyprus tended to adopt a defensive strategy in the hope of avoiding heavy defeats, which restricted attackers to few scoring chances.

Kaiafas finally hung up his boots 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".

The family connection does not end there. Kaiafas is still involved with Omonia in an advisory capacity and attends all matches. His son, Cypriot international midfield player Kostas Kaiafas, captains the club. His is an enduring legacy.

As a reward for his football worth, Cyprus Football Association chose him as the Best Football Player of the Century for UEFA Jubilee Awards.

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