Panthessalonikeios Athlitikos Omilos Konstantinoupoliton (Greek: Πανθεσσαλονίκειος Αθλητικός Όμιλος Κωνσταντινουπολιτών), or the Pan-Thessalonikan Athletic Organisation of Konstantinopolitans, is a sports club mainly known for its football section, one of the biggest in Greece. PAOK was re-established in Thessaloniki in 1926 as the continuation of the Hermes Athletic and Cultural Association of Constantinople (founded in 1875), when most of the native Greek population of Turkey was expelled between 1922-1926.
PAOK FC is the football team of PAOK. PAOK also maintains teams in other sports, including basketball (see PAOK BC), volleyball (see PAOK VC), handball, water polo, swimming, wrestling and weightlifting.
PAOK are also known to have one of the most fanatical supporter bases in the World.It is estimated that PAOK fans are totally about 8,000,000 (2,000,000 in Greece and 6,000,000 in other countries such as Germany , Australia, the USA , Russia and more). The best known PAOK Thessaloniki Supporters Clubs Federation is Thira 4 ("Gate 4"), based in the center of Thessaloniki. Other federations include Makedones (Macedonians), BEM (Byzantine United Warriors), and Ultras Fans PAOK. PAOK Thessaloniki Supporters Clubs have also been established globally, both throughout Europe and as far away as the Americas (New York Club PAOK) and Australia (Melbourne Club PAOK).
PAOK is the historical continuation of the ‘Hermes’ Athletic and Cultural Association from Constantinople established by Greek residents of the city in 1875 in the very heart of the city in the Pera area. The need of Constantinople’s Greek residents to express and support their Greekism within Turkey was what led to the creation of this club. The club won cup after cup proving that although the Greeks were a minority they continued to have a strong presence in the sporting sector. However, that situation did not last long and most players were forced to flee, leaving behind a team consisting of residents of Constantinople renamed Politakia. Those who fled settled in Thessaloniki and in 1926 established PAOK which translated means the Panthessalonikian Athletic Club of Constantinople, retaining the symbols of their ‘Greekness’, the twin-headed eagle of the Byzantine Empire combined with mourning black to symbolize the tragic history of the Greeks in Turkey and white, the colour of optimism, a window onto the future, symbolizing their struggle for tomorrow and the victories they intended to win. This club history stretching back to the 19th century in effect makes PAOK one of Greece’s oldest athletic clubs but also means that it shoulders a heavy historical burden.
The club’s first charter was approved on 20th April 1926 by means of decision of the Thessaloniki Court of First Instance (No. 822). However, PAOK had in effect been established a year earlier when it took part in the Thessaloniki Championship where it was unfortunately demoted to the 2nd Division, a demotion which forced the founders of the club to bolster it substantially.
PAOK’s first emblem adopted in 1926 was a four-leaved clover and a horseshoe. The leaves were green with the letters PAOK marked on each of them, a symbol devised by Kostas Koemtzopoulos who took the idea from a packet of cigarettes he smoked.
The club’s founding members were A. Angelopoulos, A. Athanassiadis, K. Anagnostidis, M. Ventourellis, F. Vyzantinos (second Chairman), A. Dimitriadis, D. Dimitriadis, N. Zoumboulidis, M. Theodosiadis, T. Ioakimopoulos, P. Kalpaktsoglou, T. Kartsambekis, D. Koemtzopoulos, K. Koemtzopoulos, P. Kontopoulos, K. Kritikos, M. Konstantinidis, P. Maletskas, I. Nikolaidis, L. Papadopoulos, F. Samantzopoulos, T. Tsoulkas, M. Tsoulkas, S. Triantafyllidis, T. Triantafyllidis (who was also its first Chairman).
PAOK’s first Board of Directors serving between 1926 and 1927 consisted of :
1) T. Triantafyllidis (Chairman), 2) P. Kalpaktsoglou (1st Vice-Chairman), 3) A. Athanassiadis (2nd Vice Chairman), 4) K. Kritikos (Hon. Secretary), 5) M. Tsoulkas (Secretary), 6) T. Ioakimopoulos (Treasurer), 7) A. Angelopoulos (Football Steward), 8) M. Konstantinidis (Director) and 9) S. Triantafyllidis (Director).
After 2 months of preparation by the team following the club’s establishment it was decided that the team should compete against the other teams in Thessaloniki. The desire to see the new team compete led many to the Iraklis Football Ground on 26th July 1925 where it won 2-1. Two weeks later PAOK lost to the champion of Thessaloniki, ARIS 5-2.
In 1927 PAOK’s first anthem was heard: "We are the praiseworthy children of Constantinople who play outstanding football; overflowing with joy like no other team. Our system is to pass the ball, and at the season’s end to reckon up how many goals we have scored and how many we have let in. We have everything, yes everything: studs, boots, shorts, black tops and kneepads, to drive the young girls crazy. We fear no one not even ARIS or Iraklis, because we have skilful Ventourellis as our chief."
The vision of the club’s founders and fans of the team of establishing a home base became reality in 1928 following much effort and thus on 12th December 1930 the Syntrivaniou Football Ground was officially opened. This was followed by a friendly match against ARIS with the home team winning 2-1.
The first professional contract was a document of historic importance. It was signed by the Club on 5th September 1928. The contract stipulated that the footballer Etien who had come from the Constantinople club Peraclub would be paid 4,000 drachmas per month. The contract was singed by Dr. Meletiou (PAOK Chairman) and Mr. Sakellaropoulos, Hon. Secretary.
Merging with AEK
Until 20th March 1929 the two clubs were rivals, competing against each other although both had been established by refugees from Constantinople. It was the Chairman of AEK, Dr. Karamaounas, who brokered the merger between Thessaloniki’s two refugee teams. The main figures behind the idea and its implementation were Fanourios Vyzantios and Pantelis Kalpaktsoglou who had defected from AEK Thessaloniki, which had been established in 1924-25 by the first wave of refugees who had come to Thessaloniki from Constantinople in 1922. Certain members of AEK Thessaloniki headed south to the capital upon the merger to found the modern-day team AEK.
Following the merger with AEK in 1929, PAOK changed its emblem. The new emblem became the Eagle, which it remains to this day, and symbolizes the arrival of the club and the return to the roots and heritage of the refugees (Byzantium and Constantinople). The Eagle holds a sword and a crown with its two heads looking East and West. The difference between this emblem and that of AEK (which is also the symbol of the Eastern Orthodox Church) is that PAOK’s emblem has its wings folded signifying mourning for expulsion from the homeland.
The first foreign coach in the history of the team, German Rudolph Ganser, who served with PAOK for the 1931-1932 season.
Decades 1940 ,1950
Following World War II and the German Occupation of Greece, the team known as the ‘Twin-Headed Eagle of the North’ entered upon a shining chapter in its career starting at the beginning of the 1950s. Willi, an Austrian coach (1950-1952) who had worn the PAOK jersey in 1931-1932 established a young talent academy within the club which gave rise to leading names who later left their mark such as Leandros, Symeonidis, Giannelos, Margaritis, Giorgos Havanidis, and others.
1953 marked the beginning of PAOK’s golden age. During the summer transfer period, Kouiroukidis, Petridis, Progios, Geroudis, Kemanidis, Hourvouliadis, Hasiotis and Angelidis all joined the club. PAOK became all-powerful, taking the Thessaloniki championship for 3 successive years and becoming a worthy representative of Greece’s second largest city in the national championship. The legendary trio Yientzis, Kouiroukidis and Papadakis went down in history!
During 1957 the club managers envisioned a new football ground worthy of the team’s performance since the old ground had been compulsorily purchased. The search for a site led to the choice of a plot belonging to the National Defence Fund in the Toumba neighbourhood, which in addition to offering unlimited free space was also an area of Thessaloniki closely associated with refugees from Asia Minor. A total area of 30,000 m2 was acquired by PAOK for a significant price and construction of the new football ground began. Lottery tickets were even issued to aid construction of the new stadium which was eventually opened on 6th September 1959 by the Minister of National Defence, Mr. G. Themelis. Before the first kick off an Air Force plane dropped a ball on a fly over as a symbolic donation from the armed forces. Thanks to its new, large football ground, PAOK was ready to start a brilliant career which has lasted to this day, starting with the 1st Division established in October 1959.
At the premier of the 1st Division’s first championship on 25th October 1959 PAOK welcomed the Katerini team Megas Alexandros beating it 3-1. The team line-up was as follows: Zarko Michailovic (Yugoslavian) and Progios, Hasiotis, Raptopoulos, Giannelos, Kemanidis, Havanidis, Leandros, Kiourtzis, Kouiroukidis, Salousto and Nikolaidis.
This was followed by a decade during which PAOK had an average performance. One could say that it was as if it was building up its strength only to unleash it during the 1970s when the team became established as one of the best ever to play at Greek football grounds with players whose names became legends for Greek football. It was a team and players who set records which even today are difficult to beat. Thanks to the team PAOK put together it managed to strike a blow to the traditional football powers of Athens and took the cup twice in 1972 in 1974 and a championship in 1976 and could have won more trophies if the circumstances were different. PAOK became established as Northern Greece’s greatest team with thousands of fanatical fans. In Europe it performed exceptionally well during the 1973-74 season qualifying for the quarter finals of the Cupholder’s Cup but was knocked out in the end by Italian team Milan. PAOK’s excellent performance continued during the 1980s with very few unsuccessful seasons. The high point came mid-decade when the team won its second Greek Championship in 1985 and its first professional title since Greek football had changed course towards professional games.
Characteristic of the 1980s was the excessive fanaticism of the fans, which reached levels never seen before and which began to move beyond Greece becoming a European-wide phenomenon. However, the obsession shown by fans also had a downside, translating in quite a few cases into episodes which entailed penalties being imposed on the club. At European level, PAOK made a moving appearance against Bayern Munich, where it was knocked out on penalties leaving in the mind of all Greeks one of the best appearances by a Greek team in a European cup. The 1990s started well with PAOK firmly among the top three teams in Greece. However, it was stigmatized by an extremely average-to-poor team performance under the chairmanship of T. Voulinos, who came into direct conflict with the fan club following serious episodes during the PAOK – Paris St. Germaine match, which led to PAOK’s exclusion and very nearly to financial ruin. In 1996 the change demanded by PAOK fans came about. Thomas Voulinos handed over the baton to Giorgos Batatoudis and an air of optimism was tangible everywhere in Thessaloniki. Numerous transfers of well-known players such as Zisis Vryzas, Spyros Marangos, Kostas Fratzeskos and others took place from the first season under new management. In 1997 PAOK eventually found a place in the UEFA Cup and team coach Angelos Anastassiadis made his debut on the PAOK bench. The team’s reappearance at European level was accompanied by the resounding exclusion of legendary team Arsenal.
The following year Anastassiadis was dismissed and Oleg Blachin took his place for a few months only since the fans demanded the urgent return of Anastassiadis. He stayed for a season, succeeded by Ari Haan and then in December by Dusan Bajievic who took over the reigns.
PAOK had firmly established its position among the teams that play in Europe every year but that was no longer enough. A place in the Champions League was the next target. The team’s next steps were taken in 2001 with a win in the Greek Cup after 25 years in an unforgettable final against Olympiakos. Playing at Nea Philadelphia PAOK thrashed the former champions 4-2.
However, financial problems continued to plague the club and acted as a brake on the efforts of the team’s footballers to achieve even greater targets.
Angelos Anastassiadis returned to the PAOK bench as coach in the summer of 2002. The season led to another great triumph with a win in the Cup for a second time in three years at the Toumba Stadium against ARIS 1-0.
However, it was the following season that held much more in store and which rocketed the team skyward. Although key players left over the summer (Georgiadis, Okkas, Kafes) PAOK managed to secure its participation in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League taking third place.
Among PAOK's greatest rivarlies is the one against Brcelona.The two teams had met in 1976.PAOK managed to beat Cruiff's side 1-0 in Toumpa but lost 6-1 in Camp Nou.PAOK's fans are still waiting for a match aginst Barcelona to pay them back.
The games between PAOK and Olympiacos have always been different than the rest of the Greek league games. This started out before World War II, then went on during the Giorgos Koudas years, up until today. The will, passion and thirst for a win were the main characteristics of the players' performances in these games.
In 27 total games played at Toumpa, PAOK has 13 wins, Olympiakos has 6, while 8 games were tied. The goal differential is 42-19 in favor of PAOK , while worth mentioning is the fact that PAOK has forced Olympiakos to their biggest thrashing ever. During the 1987-1988 season when Olympiakos finished 8th in the Greek championship, PAOK beat the Reds 6-1 at the neutral Serres stadium.
On the other hand when PAOK plays away against Olympiacos things are not going well. In 47 games Olympiacos has 35 wins, PAOK has 6, while 6 games were tied. The goal differetial is 92-38 in favor of Olympiacos, while worth mentioning is the fact that Olympiacos has forced PAOK to their biggest thrashing ever. During the 1961-1962 season, Olympiacos beat PAOK 6-0.
PAOK's fans are known around Europe as a fearsome group and therefore few away fans from around Greece and Europe come to PAOK's Toumpa stadium. UEFA had banned PAOK for many years due to Hooliganism.
PAOK v Olympiakos
ARIS is probably the greatest and oldest rival of PAOK, both in local and national level. This, of course, has always been evident in every match between the two. However, this derby has lost its former importance over the years, mainly because of ARIS' recent major financial and management problems, and the fact that in 2005 the team was relegated to the second division after a miserable 2004-2005 season but Aris has been promoted.Also PAOK won the greek champion two times and ARIS three.In 2006-2007 season both of the teams are facing major financial problems.Still, a profound animosity against "the local enemy" can still be felt in fans of both teams.
This rivalry has faded out over the years, especially because Iraklis' fan base (organized or not) is growing smaller every year, and is every time giving less excuses for tension between the fans or the clubs. Yet this is a local derby and is considered a must game for a respectable PAOK fan to attend.
The fact that AEK shares the same emblem with PAOK (the two-headed eagle, a tribute to both teams' Constantinopolitan roots) has given rise to the dispute over which of the two "eagles" is the strongest, that of Thessaloniki or that of Athens. Yet few fans think of that dispute nowadays, and their hatred is simply driven by the fact that AEK belongs to the Athenian "establishment" as well.
PAOK and Panathinaikos are the most successful clubs in the history of Greek football as far as European Competitions are concerned. So, this could be called a derby between the two "Europeans". These successes, however, have deteriorated over the past few years, especially for PAOK. So, this derby has little more importance than that with AEK or Olympiakos.
Number Nationality Player Position Birth Year Previous Club
Midfielders / Wingers
Greek Cup (4x)
1972, 1974, 2001 and 2003
Runners Up: 1939,1951,1955,1970,1971,1973,1977,1978,1981,1983,1985,1992
Alpha Ethniki Championships (2x)
1976 and 1985
Runner Up: 1940,1973,1978
PAOK FC has qualified for the UEFA Cup a record ten times in a row. They are the European club with the most consecutive UEFA Cup appearances. One of the most successfully appearances in UEFA cup was on September the 30th 1997 where PAOK down to 10 men qualify thought Arsenal. In the year Arsenal won the English premiership an the English Cup.
UEFA Cup, 1st round, 2nd leg Arsenal vs PAOK Salonika Arsenal(0) 1 - PAOK Salonika(1) 1
Scorers: Bergkamp 22 (Arsenal) Vrizas 86 (PAOK Salonika)
Toumba's Stadium is one of the official Olympic Training Venues for the football tournament of the 2004 Olympic Games. Stadium will be renovated by the time of the Games. Toumba Stadium will be renovated by the time of the Games.
The «new» stadium will include:
a new four-floor building, which will be built behind gates 1, 2 and 3. This will host a number of VIP suites and lounge, presswork areas, press conference rooms, offices etc.
a new metal roof, which will replace the old one over the west stand. An impressive metal construction will decorate the outside look of the new building and roof. This will hold a special net, on which advertising banners can be supported.
repairs and a full renovation of the existing stadium facilities.
By car: From Egnatia Street to Gregoriou Lambraki Street.
By bus: No. 14 or No. 37 from Egnatia Street to Saint Barbara's Church stop No. 30 from Martiou Street to Saint Barbara's Church stop No. 12 from Mitropoleos Street to PAOK's Stadium stop
FC PAOK’s Training Center
A modern training center which was anounced best training center in Europe in 2004 by UEFA located in Nea Efkarpia, Thessaloniki
PAOK Marketing and Media
PAOK is one of the better organised clubs in the world in terms of marketing.Since 1992 when PAOK Marketing Inc.was founded the club has developed rapidly.
In 2001 the first Greek Club Channel was launched.It was named PAOK Channel and was loved by fans from the first moment.Unfortunally, Alpha Digital ,the company responsible for the channel's broadcast went bankrupt and the service was shut down
PAOK Boutique is the club's official shop.It is considered to be one of the best club shop in the whole world.It was designed by a group of American companies and opened in 1996.It is located in Toumpa Stadium and serves PAOK's fan from Greece as well as other Balkan countries such as Bulgaria,Turkey and Albania.It is a must place to visit in Thessaloniki.
These are the official PAOK's shops.The offer a wide variety of products such as official PAOK merchantise,mobile phones by PAOK Telecom and more.Currently,there are shops in Athens,Herakleion,New York,Toronto,Chicago,Melbourne,Tokyo and Beijing.
Official Telecommunications company exclusively for PAOK's fans.It offers a wide variety of products.