NK Maribor

Maribor
Club crest
Full name Nogometni Klub Maribor
Nickname(s) Vijoličasti (The Purples)
Vijolice (The Violets)
Štajerski ponos (The pride of Styria)
Founded 12 December 1960; 53 years ago (1960-12-12)
Ground Ljudski vrt
Ground Capacity 12,994
President Drago Cotar
Head Coach Ante Šimundža
League Slovenian PrvaLiga
2012–13 1st
Website Club home page
Home colours
Away colours
Current season
Active sport clubs of Branik
Football pictogram.svg Handball pictogram.svg Volleyball (indoor) pictogram.svg Water polo pictogram.svg
Football Handball Volleyball Water polo

Nogometni Klub Maribor (English: Maribor Football Club), commonly referred to as NK Maribor or simply Maribor, is a professional association football club based in the city of Maribor, Slovenia. Founded on 12 December 1960, Maribor is one of only three football clubs in the country who have never been relegated from Slovenian top flight 1. SNL since its establishment in 1991.[1][2] They are regarded as a symbol of Slovenian football, particularly in their home region of Styria (Slovene: Štajerska) in the northeastern Slovenia.

Maribor is the most successful club in the country, having won eleven Slovenian PrvaLiga titles, eight Slovenian Cups and three Slovenian Supercups. The club's most successful period was in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when they were led by managers Bojan Prašnikar, Ivo Šušak and Matjaž Kek and overwhelmingly dominated domestic football, winning seven successive league titles and three national cups. Following the 2008–09 season and led by manager Darko Milanič, Maribor became the dominant force in Slovenian football for the second time, having won three out of four championships since then. In addition, Darko Milanič has led the club to three cup titles and two supercups, becoming the first coach who has won all three domestic trophies. Prior to Slovenia's independence in 1991 Maribor played in the Yugoslav football system. They are one of only three Slovenian teams who participated in the country's highest division, Yugoslav First League, between the end of World War II in 1945 and the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991. Apart from winning the Yugoslav second division once and the third division five times, the club had no major success during its Yugoslav period; the closest they came to winning a major trophy was in the 1967–68 season, when they reached the semi-finals of the Yugoslav Cup. In addition, they are the only Slovenian club and one of only four clubs from the former Yugoslavia who participated in group stage of the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League.

They maintain a fierce rivalry with Olimpija from the capital Ljubljana, with whom they contest the Eternal Derby (Večni derbi). Their other major rivalry is against NŠ Mura from Murska Sobota and matches between the two are dubbed as the Northeastern Derby (Severovzhodni derbi). Maribor also have a loyal and passionate fan base and the club has the highest average all-time attendance in Slovenia.

The club's home ground is the Ljudski vrt stadium, which has a capacity of 12,994.[3] It was originally built in 1952 and later underwent a series of major reconstructions in the 1990s and 2000s. The club's Academy, which is hailed as the best in the country,[4] is responsible for youth development at the club and has enjoyed a fair amount of success in producing promising young players.[5] Maribor's nicknames are The Purples (Vijoličasti) and The Violets (Vijolice), both referring to their primary colour purple. The club's motto is One club, one honour (En klub, ena čast).

HistoryEdit

FoundingEdit

Maribor playing against Rudar Trbovlje in 1961

Maribor football club was founded on 12 December 1960.[1] The board of the newly established club then organized the presidential elections and Dr. Srečko Koren was appointed as the first club president, while Andrija Pflander was appointed as the first head coach and Oto Blaznik as the first team captain. The club played their first match on 5 February 1961, when they defeated city rivals Kovinar 2–1 (0–0), with Stefan Tolič scoring both goals.[6] Although the team colours, purple and white, were chosen from the beginning, the team played its first match in a green and blue combination, as their violet jerseys were not available in time for the first match.[6] The team won the Slovenian Republic League (third tier of Yugoslav football) in their first season and therefore won the right to contest the qualifications for the Yugoslav Second League.[6] Andrija Pflander was the head coach of the team that won the Republic league. However, he had to step down from the position right before the start of the promotion play-off due to illness.[6] His successor was Vladimir Šimunić, the man who eventually guided the team to their promotion to the Yugoslav First League six years later.[6] Maribor won the first two rounds of the qualifying play-off and eventually defeated Croatian side Uljanik from Pula in the final qualifying phase with the score 2–1 on aggregate, therefore securing the right to play in the second Yugoslav division.[6]

Crest
Maribor's crest in the 1970s

In 1961 the club received a new stadium named Ljudski vrt. On 2 September of that year football fans across Slovenia witnessed the birth of a new rivalry between Maribor and Olimpija Ljubljana.[7] The first match between the two clubs was played in Ljubljana and ended in a 1–1 draw. Matches between these two clubs later became known in Slovenia as the Eternal derby (Večni derbi). After five seasons, the average attendance of home matches was around 8,000 spectators, and under the guidance of coach Simunič, the club won the second division title and managed to reach the Yugoslav first league, between the end of World War II in 1945 and the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991.[6]

Yugoslav top divisionEdit

The club's first match in the Yugoslav top division was played in 1967 against Macedonian side Vardar in Skopje (1–1); Maras scored the only goal for Maribor.[6] The first top level home match was played on 27 August 1967 against Proleter Zrenjanin in front of 8,000 spectators and Maribor won with the score 3–0.[6] The goals were scored by Kranjc, Arnejčič and Binkovski.[6] During the same season, football fans across Slovenia witnessed the first ever match in the Yugoslav top flight involving two clubs from Slovenia, when Maribor hosted a match against their rivals Olimpija Ljubljana in front of 13,000 spectators (0–0).[8] Every match between the two clubs during this period would be sold out, with crowd attendance sometimes as high as 20,000.[7] The team finished their first season in Yugoslav top flight in 12th place.[6]

During their five years in the top division, Maribor played a total of 166 matches and achieved 40 wins, 57 draws and 69 defeats, with a goal difference of 166–270. Maribor's highest league position was in the 1969–70 season when the club finished in 10th place in an 18-club league.[6] The average league placement of the club in Yugoslav top flight was 13.8. The 1971–72 season was their last season in top division as the team finished last with 20 points.[9] Mladen Kranjc, one of the best players in history of the club, was the best goalscorer for the team in each of its five seasons spent in the Yugoslav top division, having scored a total of 54 league goals, which eventually led to his transfer to one of the top Yugoslav clubs, Dinamo Zagreb.[10]

In the next season, Maribor played in the second Yugoslav division and finished as the runners-up, which meant that they qualified for the Yugoslav first division promotion play-off.[9] In the first qualifying round against Montenegrin side Budućnost, Maribor won on penalties and qualified for the decisive round against Proleter.[9] The first leg was played in Maribor on 8 July 1973, and is acknowledged as one of the most historic matches in history of the club as it still holds the club's attendance record.[9] There were 20,000 spectators, 15,000 of whom were already present in the stands almost three hours before kick off, eventually helping Maribor win the game 3–1.[11] However, the two-goal advantage proved to be insufficient as Proleter won the second leg in Zrenjanin 3–0 and earned promotion with the score 4–3 on aggregate.[9] In the second leg match when the score was 1–0 for the home team, Maribor had scored an equaliser in the 23rd minute, but the goal was disallowed.[9] The later TV replay showed that the ball had actually crossed the goal line and that the goal should have stood.[9]

After the dramatic play-off against Proleter, the club entered a period of stagnation. During this period Maribor were again close to promotion to top division in the 1978–79 season when they finished in second place, six points behind Bosnian side Čelik.

Bribery scandal and aftermathEdit

At the end of 1980–1981 season Maribor were celebrating as the club managed to avoid relegation, when the "Ball" (Žoga) bribery scandal emerged, and caused the club to be relegated from second tier to third by the decision of the Football Association of Yugoslavia disciplinary committee.[12][13] The club had a secret fund that was used for bribing officials and opponents.[14] Some club officials were keeping track of the bribery expenses in their black book, which was later confiscated by the authorities.[14] From the book it is clear that Maribor had bribed a total of 31 people.[14] After the scandal and the subsequent relegation to third division, Maribor spent the following years bouncing between the second and third Yugoslav leagues until the independence of Slovenia in 1991.

In 1988 Maribor joined MŠD Branik organization, to form Maribor Branik.[15] Although the club uses only the name Maribor in domestic and international competitions it is still officially registered as NK Maribor Branik to this day.[16] The club always had close ties to MŠD Branik as NK Branik Maribor, an association football club which was part of MŠD Branik, had been dissolved only a couple of months before Maribor was established and, many fans who had supported Branik simply switched to supporting Maribor as they viewed the club as the successor of Branik.[15] In October that year Mladen Kranjc was involved in a tragic motorcycle accident in Dolnja Počehova.[10] Considered to be one of the best goalscorers in the history of the club, he died at the age of 43.[10][13]

After the independenceEdit

Following the independence of Slovenia, Slovenia's best clubs joined the newly formed Slovenian League.[17] Maribor were one of the league's founding members, and are one of only three clubs, along with Gorica and Celje, who have never been relegated from the Slovenian top division. In the first couple of seasons, Maribor's rivals Olimpija from Ljubljana, who have had a long tradition of playing in the Yugoslav first league and at the time still had their squad composed of players from that era, dominated the league.[17] Although Olimpija dominated the league, Maribor still managed to win the first edition of the Slovenian Cup in 1992.[17] The final match was played in Ljubljana at Bežigrad Stadium versus Olimpija. It ended in a goalless draw after regular time and was won by Maribor after a penalty shoot-out (4–3).[17] This was the first major success for Maribor.[17] During the next season the team had their European début, appearing in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. They played their first European match on 19 August 1992, when they hosted Ħamrun Spartans of Malta and won with the score 4–0.[17] Ante Šimundža scored the first historic goal of the match.[17] Olimpija went on to win the first four domestic championships, until their streak was interrupted by Gorica who won it in the 1995–96 season.[18] Maribor were runners-up in the 1991–92, 1992–93 and 1994–95 seasons, before finishing third in 1993–94 and then fourth in the 1995–96 season. During this period the club managed to win another Slovenian cup in 1993–94, defeating Mura from Murska Sobota in the final with 3–2 on aggregate.[17]

The 1996–97 season proved to be the turning point in the history of Maribor. The club stormed the Slovenian league and became national champions for the first time in their history.[17] During this season average home attendance was 5,289 spectators, which is still a record in the Slovenian League.[20][21] The final match of the season was played on 1 June 1997, against Beltinci and attracted a crowd of 14,000,[22] which is also a record of the Slovenian top league.[21] In that season Maribor also won the 1996–97 Slovenian Cup, thus winning the domestic Double, a feat also repeated in the 1998–99 season. After their first title in 1996–97 Maribor went on to win six more titles, bringing their total number to seven consecutive titles by 2003. During this period the team also won three Slovenian cups and in the 1999–2000 season, the club, led by head coach Bojan Prašnikar, managed to defeated Genk of Belgium (5–1, 0–3) and French powerhouse Lyon (1–0, 2–0) and qualify for the 1999–2000 UEFA Champions league.[23] Maribor were drawn into the same group with Dynamo Kiev, Bayer Leverkusen and Lazio. To date, Maribor is one of only four clubs (along with Dinamo Zagreb, Partizan and Hajduk Split) from the former SFR Yugoslavia who participated in UEFA Champions League group stages since the breakup of the country in 1991.[24]

Financial difficultiesEdit

The 2003–04 Slovenian Cup was the last trophy won by Maribor before the darkest era of the club began. Between 2004 and 2008, the club was plagued by financial difficulties, and Maribor even came close to being disbanded at one point.[25] However, the club did not follow their rivals Olimpija Ljubljana and Mura on that path.[25]

Due to their large debts, which at one point amounted to 4 million euros, the club could not afford to buy new players. As a consequence, the first team at the time consisted mostly of youth players mixed with a couple of foreign players brought to the club on free transfers. In the autumn of 2006, the leadership of the club changed, with the debt still amounting to over 3 million euros, and it was not until January 2011 that the club announced that the debt had been paid in full.[26] During this period, Maribor never finished above third place in the Slovenian league, and were runners-up in the Slovenian Cup twice. They were, however, one of the eleven winners of the 2006 UEFA Intertoto Cup, in which they defeated Spanish side Villarreal in the final round, only a couple of months after Villareal had played in the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League.[27]

Current statusEdit

Maribor players celebrating their ninth league title (29 May 2011, after the last round vs Domžale)
Maribor players celebrating the club's ninth league title

From the 2007–08 season onwards, Slovenian football legends Zlatko Zahovič as the sport director, and soon afterwards, Darko Milanič as the head coach, and club legend Ante Šimundža as the assistant coach, were appointed to head the club's sports department.[28] On 10 May 2008, the club re-opened the renovated Ljudski vrt, which had undergone a major reconstruction that lasted almost 20 months.[29] The first match played in the newly refurbished stadium was a league match against Nafta and was won 3–1 in front of 12,435 spectators.[29] At the start of 2008–09 season, Maribor entered history books as the first club who won 1,000 points in the Slovenian top division, after a 2–1 away win against Rudar Velenje on 26 July 2008.[30] Under the guidance of head coach Darko Milanič, Maribor won all three domestic trophies available to them (the Slovenian League, Cup, and Super Cup) in only two seasons with the club, thus becoming the first coach with all three domestic trophies won in Slovenian football.[31] On 12 December 2010, the club celebrated its 50th anniversary.[32][33][34] With the 2–1 away victory over Primorje, on 21 May 2011, Maribor secured its ninth Slovenian league title.[35] Four days later the team played the Slovenian cup final at Stožice stadium and lost to Domžale 4–3.[36]

At the start of the 2011–12 season, Maribor played in the 2011 Slovenian Supercup against Domžale on 8 July 2012 and lost with the score 2–1 after regulation.[37] This was the second consecutive loss for Maribor against Domžale in domestic cup finals in five weeks, after losing the Slovenian cup in May 2011.[37] In August 2011, Maribor defeated Glasgow Rangers[38][39] and qualified for the group stages of the 2011–12 UEFA Europa League. They managed to get one point in six matches, holding S.C. Braga to a draw at the home turf.[40] This season, Maribor won their tenth league title with a record numbers of points (85). The league title was confirmed in the game against Triglav Kranj on 22 April 2012 with an 8–0 win.[41] Furthermore, they won the Slovenian domestic cup on 23 May 2012 by defeating their Styrian rivals Celje after penalties, securing their seventh cup title.[42] This was the third time that Maribor managed to win The Double and the first time since the 1998–99 season.

At the beginning of the 2012–13 season, Maribor played in their fourth successive Supercup final. The match was played on 8 July 2012 at the Ljudski vrt stadium. Unlike in the previous two seasons, when the club finished as the runners-up, they managed to win it this time, beating their "eternal rivals" Olimpija 2–1.[43] This was their second Supercup title. They qualified to the group stages of the 2012–13 UEFA Europa League as one of the losers in the play-off round of the 2012–13 UEFA Champions League, where they were eliminated by Dinamo Zagreb.[44][45] This was the second season in a row, in which Maribor qualified to the Europa League main stages. They managed to get four points this time,[46] defeating Panathinaikos[47] and drawing with Tottenham Hotspur,[48] both at home. Maribor confirmed their eleventh league title on 11 May 2013, when they defeated their eternal rivals Olimpija Ljubljana 2–1.[49] They again defeated Celje in the 2013 Cup Final, securing their fourth Double in the history.[50]

In the 2013–14 season, Maribor qualified to the group stages of the Europa League for the third consecutive time after losing to Viktoria Plzeň in the Champions League play-off stage.[51]

Social identityEdit

Maribor's original kit

Kit and coloursEdit

Throughout the entire history of Maribor the club's main colour was purple.[52] At the beginning of the club some officials were favouring the red and white colours, while the traditional colours of Branik were black and white. Because of the fact that many football teams in SFR Yugoslavia wore red-white or black-white jerseys, most notably FK Crvena Zvezda and FK Partizan, Maribor officials decided for a new and fresh combination. They decided to follow the example of ACF Fiorentina, which at the time was one of the most successful clubs in Europe, and their purple and white combination.[52] Oto Blaznik, the first captain in history of the club, was the one who proposed the combination after seeing the Italian side play.[52] Eventually they changed the secondary colour to yellow.[52] Today Maribor play their home matches in purple and away matches in yellow kits. The team is nicknamed The Purples (Vijoličasti);[53][54] another common nickname is The Violets (Vijolice),[55][56] both referring to their primary colour purple, present on players' jerseys and in the club crest. The club's current kit manufacturer is Adidas.[57]

CrestEdit

Maribor's crest evolution

The badge of the club is one of the most recognizable sport symbols in Slovenia. It is based on the official emblem of the city of Maribor, which is turn based on a 14th-century seal[58] with minor differences. The badge is formed in a shape of a shield, and shows the former Piramida Castle with open doors that used to stand on top of the Pyramid Hill before it was demolished at the end of the 18th century. A violet blossom forms the backdrop. Unlike the coat of arms of the city of Maribor, the current badge of the club does not represent a white dove facing downwards to the castle but an athlete.[52] At the top of the shield the name of the club and the year of its foundation is inscribed. The entire badge uses only two colours, purple and yellow.[52] Previous versions of the crest included the colour white, a traditional third colour of the club, in the form of a white castle in the centre and a white ball that was on top of the shield.[52] Since May 2012, the official badge includes a yellow star above the crest, which indicates the first ten Slovenian League titles won by the club.[59]

StadiumEdit

Ljudski vrt stadium with Mount Pohorje in the background.
Ljudski vrt

The Ljudski vrt (English: People's Garden, German: Volksgarten) stadium is the only stadium in Maribor that lies on the left bank of the river Drava. The stadium is a natural, cultural, architectural and sports landmark of the city[60] and is considered one of the most beautiful stadiums in the world.[61][62] The stadium is named after a public park previously located in the area.[60] A cemetery was also located on the same area before the stadium was built.[63][64] The stadium was opened in 1952 and underwent a major reconstruction in early 1960s.[60] The club first started to compete in the Ljudski vrt in 1961, when the current main stand was still under construction.[60] The stand is notable for its 129.8 metres long and 18.4 m high concrete arch and is still the main stand of the stadium.[60] In 1994 floodlights were installed and the stadium hosted its first evening match.[60] Since then the stadium went through several renovations.[65] The most notable was the one in 2008 when the stadium was completely refurbished. Presently, it has a capacity of 12,994 seats.[3]

Beside being the home ground of Maribor, the stadium also hosts matches of the Slovenia national football team and was their main venue used for the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches. It was one of two stadiums in the country which hosted the national team in UEFA Euro 2012 qualifiers.[66][67] The record attendance in the Yugoslav era was 20,000 spectators, while the record for a Slovenian League match is 14,000 spectators, achieved on the last match of the 1996–97 season.[11][22] This match is still the record holder for attendance at a football match in Slovenian League.[21]

SupportersEdit

A black and white photograph of a terrace, on a rainy day, full of football fans with umbrellas.
Maribor supporters in 1961.

Since their inception in 1960, Maribor have developed a loyal, passionate and dedicated fanbase and Maribor's fans are considered the best in the country.[68] After Slovenia declared independence in 1991, most of the town's industry perished and over 25% of the population was unemployed.[69] Still, the people remained loyal to the club. The club is by far the most popular football team in the country and is, in number of football supporters, second only to the Slovenia national football team.[21] Besides the city of Maribor and the surrounding area, the club also has a large fan base in the regions of Styria (Štajerska) and Carinthia (Koroška), from which a number of fan groups emerged from places such as Ptuj, Ljutomer, Pragersko, and Šentilj.[70] The club also draws a significant number of supporters from northern Upper Carniola (Gorenjska), with supporters located between Rateče and Kranj,[70] and northeastern Lower Carniola (Dolenjska), in the area around Krško and Kočevje,[70] as well as the capital city of Ljubljana itself. This is due to a large number of students and workers from eastern part of the country.[70] A small number of supporters are also present in Ilirska Bistrica in the Slovenian Littoral (Primorska).[70] Soon after the foundation of Maribor, the club was branded as the citizens club, while their city rivals Železničar Maribor has always been branded as the club of the working class. This was mainly because Maribor was seen, by the fans, as the successor of Branik Maribor, a club that folded in 1960. Many fans of Branik then started to cheer for Maribor, a club that was founded only couple of months later.[71]

NK Maribor is located in Slovenia
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Location of Maribor's violet bases[72]
Purple pog.svg Purple: Ljudski vrt (1); Yellow pog.svg Yellow: Dravski Dvor (2); Blue pog.svg Blue: Tezno, Maribor (3); Cyan pog.svg Cyan: Gornja Radgona (4); Red pog.svg Red: Radlje ob Dravi (5); Pink pog.svg Pink: Ptuj (6); White pog.svg White: Slovenske Konjice (7); Black pog.svg Black: Ravne na Koroškem (8); Brown pog.svg Brown: Ormož (9)

Since the establishment of the Slovenian league, 1. SNL, Maribor had the highest average attendance in almost every season to date (18 out of 22), and, overall, had more spectators on its home matches than the second and third most viewed clubs in the league combined.[21] The highest attendance was in the 1996–97 season, when on average 5,289 people attended Maribor's matches, which is still a record in Slovenian club football.[20][21] To date, Maribor is the only team in Slovenian league that gathered over 10,000 people during their league matches, achieving that number on several occasions.[73][74][75] The highest attendance ever on a Slovenian league match was on 1 June 1997, when Maribor played against Beltinci (14,000).[22] In addition, they are the only club that gathered over one million people on their matches in Slovenian league, since its foundation in 1991.[21]

Hundred of fans, wearing purple, celebrating with purple smoke from flares in the background.
Maribor supporters, in 2011, celebrating the club's ninth Slovenian league title.

In April 2013 the club began with a project Base1960 (Baza1960), a joint project of Maribor and their fans with the goal of spreading fan awareness and loyalty towards the club and to establish violet bases (Vijo'lčne baze) throughout the country, where Maribor fans would be able to hang out.[76] The bases are usually pubs that were already gathering points for Maribor fans in the past. With the status of the official violet base, those pubs are now able to sell tickets for Maribor's home and away matches and official fan merchandise or to organize fan zones during Maribor's matches broadcast on television.[76] Ljudski vrt is regarded as the main base, with eight others across the eastern part of Slovenia opened as of November 2013. The first violet base was opened on 29 April 2013 in Dravski Dvor, a small settlement couple of kilometers to the southeast of Maribor.[77] Of the current eight bases, seven are located in Styria and one in Carinthia.

The club also has an ultras group called Viole Maribor established in 1989 which is, by numbers and organization, considered the biggest in Slovenia.[78] The core of Viole consists of around 250 fans, while the whole group has around 1,000 registered members.[70][79] They are located on the southern stand of the stadium which has a capacity of just over 2,000.[70] The most Maribor fans gathered on an away match in domestic competitions was in 2001, when 3,000 fans gathered in Ljubljana,[80] while the most fans gathered on an away match abroad was in 2012 during the club's UEFA Champions League campaign, when over 1,000 fans gathered in Zagreb.[81][82] Their biggest rivals are the Green Dragons of Olimpija Ljubljana.[70] Recently another fan group emerged to support Maribor at their matches. The group is called ESS (East Side Supporters) and consists mostly of former members of Viole Maribor, now season tickets holders.[83] They are, as the name implies, located at the east stand of the stadium.

Famous fans

Famous, non-football related, supporters of NK Maribor are listed on this list alphabetically.

RivalriesEdit

Eternal derbyEdit

Maribor's biggest rivalry was with Olimpija Ljubljana, against whom they contested the Eternal derby (Večni derbi). Olimpija folded and was dissolved in 2004.[95] Today, the continuation of the rivalry is considered (by certain Ljubljana based media[96] and fans, mostly of the old Olimpija), as the matches between Maribor and the new Olimpija Ljubljana, established in 2005 as NK Bežigrad.[97] The rivalry traced its roots back to the early 1960s, when the first match between the two clubs was played.[98] The two teams represented the two largest cities in Slovenia, the capital city of Ljubljana and the second largest city Maribor, and both teams always had the largest fan bases in the country.[21] Traditionally, Ljubljana represents the richer western part of the country, while Maribor is the center of the poorer eastern part.[99] In addition, Ljubljana was always the cultural, educational, economic and political center of the country and Olimpija and its fans were considered as the representatives of the upper class.[100] Maribor, on the other hand, was one of the most industrialized cities in Yugoslavia,[101] and the majority of its fans were the representatives of the working class, which means that the rivalry usually had political, social, and cultural tensions as well.

The old rivalry reached its peak in the final round of 2000–01 season, when one of the most celebrated matches in Slovenian League history was played, Olimpija Ljubljana met Maribor at their home stadium, Bežigrad.[102] Both teams were competing for their fifth Slovenian League title. The home team needed a win for the title, while a draw was enough for Maribor. The atmosphere was electric days before the kick-off, and the stadium with a capacity of 8,500 was completely sold out. At the end, the match ended with a draw (1–1)[102] and Maribor started to celebrate their fifth consecutive title[103] in front of 3,000 of their fans that gathered in Ljubljana that day.[80]

An additional intensity to the rivalry is the fact that both Maribor and Olimpija always had support on their matches from ultras groups, called Viole Maribor[78] supporting Maribor, and the Green Dragons who support Olimpija.[104] The two groups are the largest in the country, and it is not uncommon that the matches between the two clubs were sometimes interrupted by violent clashes between the two groups or with the police.[105] On many occasions, before or after the matches, the fans of the two clubs would also meet up and fight on the streets. One of the worst incidents, in April 2010 after a match, resulted in a stabbing of a member of the Green Dragons who, with a group of friends, got into a fight with members of the Viole in Ljubljana's railway station.[106] However, to date, there have not been any fatalities in the country related to football violence.

Because the new Olimpija is supported by most of the fans of the previous Olimpija, including their ultras group, the Green Dragons, who have a long-standing rivalry with Maribor's own ultras group Viole Maribor, many see the matches between Maribor and the new club as the continuation of the rivalry and refer to it by the same name.[107][108] However, there are many fans, either the ones from Maribor or the ones from Ljubljana, that do not share the same view and do not share similar beliefs,[109][110][111] including part of the media such as RTV Slovenija and Večer.[112][113][114] The overall statistics of the old and the new Olimpija are tracked separately by the Football Association of Slovenia and the Association of 1. SNL.[21][112][115] The first match between Maribor and the new Olimpija took place on 24 October 2007 on a Slovenian cup quarter-final match that was won by Maribor, 3–1.[112][116] At the time Olimpija was still competing under the name Olimpija Bežigrad.[116] Statistically, Maribor is the more successful club either in the case of matches only from the period from 1962 to 2005 or the whole period from 1962 to present day.[7] Maribor is also much more successful in case of the matches against Olimpija, established in 2005 as Bežigrad.[98]

Northeastern derbyEdit

Maribor playing at home against Mura 05 during the 2011–12 season
Maribor playing against Mura 05 in 2012

The other major rivalry of the club was that against Mura from Murska Sobota. Similar to Olimpija, Mura also folded and was dissolved in 2004[95] and today the continuation of the rivalry is considered as the matches between Maribor and NŠ Mura, established in 2012, who consider themselves, together with the fans of the old Mura, as the spiritual continuation of the 2004 and 2013 dissolved clubs.[117] The match between the two clubs was first played in 1967 in the time of SFR Yugoslavia. Although the first match was played in the late 1960s it was not until the independence of Slovenia in 1991 when most of the matches were played.[118] Before the establishment of the 1. SNL in 1991 both clubs had never played together in the top division and the rivalry became apparent only after the independence of Slovenia, when both clubs were among the top teams of the newly established national league. Mura comes from a small, rural town of Murska Sobota in eastern Slovenia which is the center of the poorest region in the country, Prekmurje.[99] Prekmurje was, for about a thousand years, part of the Kingdom of Hungary, unlike other Slovene Lands.[119] It therefore maintains certain specific linguistic, cultural and religious features that differentiate it from other traditional Slovenian regions.[119] The Mura river, which runs on the border between Styria (Štajerska), the capital of which is Maribor,[120] and Prekmurje was therefore not just a natural barrier, but political as well.[119] During the 1990s and early 2000s the two clubs were the most successful and popular teams in the eastern part of the country.[21] The rivalry reached its peak in 2003–04 season when Mura hosted Maribor at home in the final round of the season. Before the match Maribor was leading the table and was close in winning their eighth consecutive title while the mid table position of Mura was predetermined before the final round. However, Mura won the match 2–1[121] and Maribor eventually finished the season on third place, losing the title by two points.[122]

Mura also has support during their matches from their ultras group, named the Black Gringos.[123] Statistically, both teams always enjoyed one of the biggest attendances on their matches and, in term of numbers, both teams had one of the largest fan bases in the country.[21] The fact that Prekmurje is one of the smallest and least populated regions in Slovenia has made Mura's fans labeled, by the general public, as one of the most loyal in the country.[124] Even while playing in the lower tier of Slovenian football, Mura 05 still had a higher average attendances than most of the first division clubs.[125] Statistically, Maribor is the more successful club, considering either the case of matches from the period from 1967 to 2005, or the whole period from 1967 to present day.[118]

HonoursEdit

YugoslaviaEdit

League

Winners (1): 1966–67
Runners-up (3): 1963–64, 1972–73, 1978–79
Winners (5): 1960–61, 1975–76, 1981–82, 1983–84, 1985–86
Runners-up (1): 1987–88

Cup

Semi-finalists (1): 1967–68
Winners (13): 1961, 1966, 1967, 1972–73, 1973–74, 1976–77, 1978–79, 1980–81, 1982–83, 1984–85, 1985–86, 1987–88, 1988–89
Runners-up (8): 1963, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1983–84, 1986–87

SloveniaEdit

League

Winners (11): 1996–97, 1997–98, 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2011–12, 2012–13
Runners-up (4): 1991–92, 1992–93, 1994–95, 2009–10

Cup

Winners (8): 1991–92, 1993–94, 1996–97, 1998–99, 2003–04, 2009–10, 2011–12, 2012–13
Runners-up (3): 2006–07, 2007–08, 2010–11
Winners (3): 2009, 2012, 2013
Runners-up (2): 2010, 2011

Doubles and Trebles

Winners (4): 1996–97, 1998–99, 2011–12, 2012–13 (as part of the Treble)
Winners (1): 2012–13

Maribor's tally of eleven Slovenian Championships[126] and the total of eight Slovenian Cup titles[127] is the highest in Slovenian football. Maribor holds the record for most consecutive league titles (7), ahead of Olimpija Ljubljana (4) and ND Gorica (3).[128] They are also the only team in the country that has achieved the Slovenian Championship and the Slovenian Cup 'doubles' on more than one occasion (4). In addition, they are the only club who has won the Slovenian version of the 'treble', having won the league, cup and supercup during the 2012–13 season. On their official website, UEFA states that Maribor has won one international cup, as Maribor was one of the winners of the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2006.[27] However, the trophy itself was awarded to Newcastle United, the team that advanced farthest in the UEFA competitions that season.[129] Maribor have the best top-flight record in history, having finished below fourth place only once.[130] Maribor also have the highest average league finishing position for the Slovenian league, with an average league placing of 2,2. In addition, they were the first team to win 1,000 points in Slovenian top flight, achieving that with a 2–1 away victory against Rudar Velenje on 26 July 2008.[30]

Youth AcademyEdit

Maribor's Academy is responsible for youth development at the club, with the goal of developing young players for the future. The academy is hailed as the best in Slovenia[4] and has been enjoying a fair amount of success in producing promising young players.[5] The academy is composed of ten youth selections, ranging from U19 to U7, with over 220 youth players in the system who are trained by professional staff within the club.[131] The vision of the club and its youth system is not only to produce new players but also to prepare young children for the future and life without football. Therefore, each child who wants to be a member of the academy must also be successful not only on the football field but also in the field of education.[131] During the last few years the club has also spread the football school activities to primary schools in the city of Maribor and the surrounding area, in the form of circles, where as part of the Children's Football School around 300 of the youngest footballers train.[23]

Since the independence of Slovenia in 1991 and the establishment of Maribor's youth system in its present form, the academy has been the most successful in the country.[131] U19 team holds the record for most titles then any other team, having won six times.[132] The same team has also won three U19 Cups[133] and is therefore the most triumphant team in their category. Other teams are equally successful as U17 holds the record for most titles (4),[134] the same as U14 team in their own category.[135] Even younger selections of the club also play in top-flight of their respective age categories and share similar success. In addition, Maribor's youth squads are the only ones in the country that were able to achieve league victories in the four highest youth levels (U19, U17, U14 and U12) during the course of one season.[131] Maribor's youth selections give, on average, at least 15 players per season to the Slovenia national football team selections and players from the academy are continuously tracked by top European clubs.[131] In 2012, a record eight Maribor players were called to the Slovenia national under-17 football team for the 2012 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship.[136][137]

PlayersEdit

Current squadEdit

The following list of players is current as of the date shown in the update status at the foot of the listing and player inclusion, team positions, nationalities and squad numbers depicted for the players is based solely on the first team squad information that is published and regularly maintained under the "Players" tab of the NK Maribor official website.

Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 Slovenia GK Aljaž Cotman
3 Slovenia DF Matjaž Kek, Jr.
4 Slovenia DF Marko Šuler
5 Slovenia MF Željko Filipović
6 Slovenia DF Martin Milec
7 Slovenia DF Aleš Mejač
8 Croatia MF Dejan Mezga
9 Brazil FW Marcos Tavares (captain)
11 Slovenia FW Luka Zahovič
12 Slovenia GK Marko Pridigar
14 France FW Jean-Philippe Mendy
15 Slovenia FW Rok Sirk
16 Slovenia DF Damjan Vuklišević
17 Bosnia and Herzegovina FW Nusmir Fajić
20 Slovenia MF Goran Cvijanović
No. Position Player
21 Slovenia MF Amir Dervišević
22 Slovenia MF Dare Vršič
23 Slovenia MF Dino Hotić
24 Slovenia DF Dejan Trajkovski
25 Serbia MF Ranko Moravac
26 Slovenia DF Aleksander Rajčević
28 Slovenia DF Mitja Viler
29 Slovenia MF Timotej Dodlek
30 Slovenia MF Petar Stojanović
33 Slovenia GK Jasmin Handanović
34 Slovenia GK Dragan Topić
39 Slovenia MF Damjan Bohar
44 Brazil DF Arghus
70 Slovenia MF Aleš Mertelj (vice-captain)
92 Slovenia MF Matic Črnic
Information in the above player listing is current as of 27 March 2014.

Retired numbersEdit

19Croatia Stipe Balajić, defender (1998–2005)

Number 19 is the only retired number in history of Maribor. It was retired in honour of Stipe Balajić, who was with the club for eight seasons in the late 1990s and early 2000s, during the club's most successful period.[138] He is considered as one of the best players to ever play for the club and played, both, as a defender and midfielder.[138] In his last couple of seasons he was also team captain.[138] Balajić earned a total of 229 official appearances for the club, scoring 37 goals in the process.[139] He played his last match with the club on 7 July 2005, in a friendly match against his former club Hajduk Split.[138] He started the match and was then substituted after 19 minutes of play in a symbolic gesture.[138]

Purple warriorEdit

The Purple warrior (Vijoličasti bojevnik or Vijol'čni bojevnik), is a trophy awarded to the most distinguished player in the past year.[140] The winner of the trophy is decided by a popular vote on the official website of the club, where everybody can participate. The voting starts at the end of the year and is usually finished in a month. To be eligible to participate in a poll, a player must appear for the club in at least 10 official matches.[140] The voting was first introduced at the end of 2007–08 season, with Czech defender Lubomir Kubica selected as the first ever trophy winner. Defender Elvedin Džinić was the first domestic player that won the award.[141] Between 2007 and 2011 the voting was conducted during the summer and awarded to the best player of the past season, however, the trophy for the season 2011–12 was not awarded. Instead, the club had decided to prolong the voting and award the trophy to the most distinguished player of the past full year (from January until December). Marcos Tavares became the purple warrior for the year 2012 and became the first player who has won the award twice and in successive years.

Winners[140]

Name Nat. Position Season
Lubomir Kubica Czech Republic DF 2007–08
Dejan Mezga Croatia MF 2008–09
Elvedin Džinić Slovenia DF 2009–10
Marcos Tavares Brazil FW 2010–11
Marcos Tavares Brazil FW 2012
Marcos Tavares Brazil FW 2013

Notable managersEdit

The following managers have won at least one trophy when in charge of Maribor after the independence of Slovenia in 1991:

Total Name Trophies
9 Slovenia Darko Milanič 4 Slovenian Championships, 3 Slovenian Cups, 2 Slovenian Supercups
6 Slovenia Bojan Prašnikar 4 Slovenian Championships, 2 Slovenian Cups
3 Slovenia Matjaž Kek 2 Slovenian Championships, Slovenian Cup
1 Bosnia and Herzegovina Marin Bloudek Slovenian Cup
1 Croatia Ante Čačić Slovenian Supercup
1 Slovenia Branko Horjak Slovenian Cup
1 Croatia Ivo Šušak Slovenian Championship

Club officialsEdit

Note: Flags indicate staff member's primary nationality. They may hold more than one secondary nationalities.

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External linksEdit

Last modified on 13 April 2014, at 20:25