In the autumn of 1925 on the beautiful island of Crete, in a corner of the capital, Iraklion, some musicians sat playing their lyres. Someone at the meeting had the idea of starting a society, so that others would come and listen to their music. The founding members were impressed to learn of similar societies across the rest of Greece that combined cultural activities with sporting ones, with a particualar emphasis on football.
And so OFI was born, the acronym stands for the Society Friends of Sport in Iraklion (Όμιλος Φιλάθλων Ηρακλείου). The next item on the agenda was a club emblem. On an island with such a glorious and savage history as Crete, it was always bound to be a warlike symbol. A warrior's shield was chosen by the founder and chief inspiration for the club, Vasillis Sfakianakis. Unsurprisingly, the choice is steeped im mythology. The shield on the OFI badge is shaped like that of ancient Odysseus (Ulysses in Latin) who fought in the Trojan War.
With the crest complete, the colours remained to be chosen. Black and white were the inevitable choices: white standing for justice and black for courage in local folklore. The club, once founded, was an expression of Iraklion's athleticism, culture and taste. All the talent of Crete was invested and showcased by OFI.
Over time OFI became under the influence of the Vardinoyiannis family, the wealthy Greek shipping dynasty who also own Athens aristocrats Panathinaikos (PAO). The relationship between the two clubs has been heavily criticised by many observers in Greece, while the practice of acquiring feeder clubs has now become standard among the European elite as they look to secure access to young talent for less money.
OFI takes credit as the breeding ground for 1998 European top scorer Nikos Machlas (34 goals for Vitesse Arnhem). Machlas, son of talented former OFI player Giorgos Machlas, after leading the line for Dutch legends Ajax Amsterdam returned in 2004 to play for his home team once again. He has since retired.
- Pankritiko Stadium - capacity 26,400.
60s - 70s
80s - 90s
2000 through today
On the web
- OFI FC, official site