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NK Maribor

NK Maribor is a football (soccer) club from Slovenia.

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About NK Maribor

Nogometni Klub Maribor , 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 Slovenian PrvaLiga since its establishment in 1991. They are regarded as a symbol of Football in Slovenia, particularly in their home region of Lower Styria in northeastern Slovenia.

Maribor is the most successful club in the country, having won nine Slovenian PrvaLiga titles, six Slovenian Football Cups and one Slovenian Supercup. It was originally built in 1961 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, is responsible for youth development at the club and has enjoyed a fair amount of success in producing promising young players. Maribor's nicknames are The Purples (') and The Viola (plant) ('), both referring to their primary colour purple. The club's motto is One club, one honour (').

History



Founding

Maribor football club was founded on 12 December 1960. 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. 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 of Slovenian football (1962–2004) ('). 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, becoming one of only three Slovenian clubs in history who played in the top flight of Yugoslav football. Every match between the two clubs during this period would be sold out, with crowd attendance sometimes as high as 20,000. Mladen Krajnc, 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, GNK Dinamo Zagreb.

Next season Maribor played in the second Yugoslav division and finished runners-up, which meant that they qualified for the Yugoslav first division promotion play-off. 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. The club had a secret fund that was used for bribing officials and opponents. Some club officials were keeping track of the bribery expenses in their black book, which was later confiscated by the authorities. 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. The club always had close ties to MŠD Branik as NK Branik, 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. Maribor were one of the league's founding members, and are one of only three clubs, along with ND Gorica and NK Celje, who have never been relegated from the Slovenian top division. In the first couple of seasons, Maribor's rivals NK Olimpija Ljubljana (1911) 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. Ante Šimundža scored the first historic goal of the match NK Olimpija Ljubljana (1911) went on to win the first four domestic championships, until their streak was interrupted by Gorica who won it in the 1995–96 Slovenian PrvaLiga. Maribor were runners-up in the 1991–92 Slovenian PrvaLiga, 1992–93 Slovenian PrvaLiga and 1994–95 Slovenian PrvaLiga seasons, before finishing third in 1993–94 Slovenian PrvaLiga and then fourth in the 1995–96 season. During this period the club managed to win another Slovenian cup in 1993–94 Slovenian Cup, defeating NK Mura from Murska Sobota in the final with 3–2 on aggregate.


The 1996–97 Slovenian PrvaLiga 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. The final match of the season was played on 1 June 1997, against ND Beltinci and attracted a crowd of 14,000, which is also a record of the Slovenian top league. Maribor were drawn into the same group with FC Dynamo Kyiv, Bayer 04 Leverkusen and S.S. Lazio. To date, Maribor is one of only four clubs (along with NK Dinamo Zagreb, FK Partizan and HNK Hajduk Split) from the former SFR Yugoslavia who participated in UEFA Champions League group stages since the Breakup of Yugoslavia.

Financial difficulties

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. However, the club did not follow their rivals NK Olimpija Ljubljana (1911) and NK Mura on that path. 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 CF in the final round, only a couple of months after Villareal had played in the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League. On 10 May 2008, the club re-opened the renovated Ljudski vrt Stadium, which had undergone a major reconstruction that lasted almost 20 months. The first match played in the newly refurbished stadium was a league match against NK Nafta Lendava and was won 3–1 in front of 12,435 spectators. Under the guidance of head coach Darko Milanič, Maribor won all three domestic trophies available to them (the Slovenian League, Cup, and Slovenian Supercup) in only two seasons with the club, thus becoming the first coach with all three domestic trophies won in Slovenian football. On 12 December 2010, the club celebrated its 50th anniversary. With the 2–1 away victory over NK Primorje, on 21 May 2011, Maribor secured its ninth Slovenian league title. Four days later the team played the Slovenian cup final at Stožice Stadium stadium and lost to NK Domžale 4–3.

At the start of the 2011–12 season Maribor played in the 2011 Slovenian Supercup against NK Domžale and lost with the score 2–1 after regulation. 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. 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. another common nickname is The Viola (plant) ('), both referring to their primary colour purple, present on players' jerseys and in the club crest. The club's current kit manufacturer is Adidas.

Crest

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, 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, Maribor before it was demolished at the end of the 18th century. A Viola (plant) 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. and is considered one of the most beautiful stadiums in the world. The stadium is named after a public park previously located in the area. The first football pitch in the area was built in 1952, while the stadium itself was not built until 1961. The most notable was the one in 2008 when the stadium was completely refurbished. Presently, it has a capacity of 12,994 seats. 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. After Slovenia declared independence in 1991, most of the town's industry perished and over 25% of the population was unemployed. 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. The club also draws a significant number of supporters from northern Upper Carniola ('), with supporters located between Rateče and Kranj,

Since the establishment of the Slovenian league, Slovenian PrvaLiga, Maribor had the highest average attendance in almost every season to date (17 out of 20), and, overall, had more spectators on its home matches than the second and third most viewed clubs in the league combined. The highest attendance ever on a Slovenian league match was on 1 June 1997, when Maribor played against Beltinci (14,000). The core of Viole consists of around 250 fans, while the whole group has over 500 official members. while the most fans gathered on a away match abroad was in 1999 during the club's UEFA Champions League campaign when 700 fans gathered in Rome. They are, as the name implies, located at the east stand of the stadium.

Famous fans

- Franc Kangler – Politician and current mayor of Maribor
- Anže Kopitar – Professional ice hockey player and current member of the Los Angeles Kings
- Primož Kozmus – Current 2008 Summer Olympics and former 2009 World Championships in Athletics champion in hammer throw
- Tone Partljič – Writer, author, playwright, former politician (lifetime honorary season ticket holder)
- Sašo Peče – Politician
- Lojze Peterle – Politician and current Member of the European Parliament
- Zoran Predin – Musician, singer, songwriter, record producer
- Saša Vujačić – Professional basketball player and current member of the Anadolu Efes S.K

Rivalries

Eternal derby

Maribor's biggest rivalry was with NK Olimpija Ljubljana (1911), against whom they contested the Eternal derby of Slovenian football (1962–2004) ('). Olimpija folded and was dissolved in 2004. Today, the continuation of the rivalry is considered (by certain Ljubljana based media and fans, mostly of the old Olimpija), as the matches between Maribor and the new NK Olimpija Ljubljana (2005), established in 2005 as NK Bežigrad. The rivalry traced its roots back to the early 1960s, when the first match between the two clubs was played. 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. 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. Maribor, on the other hand, was one of the most industrialized cities in Yugoslavia, and the majority of its fans were the representatives of the working class, which means that the rivalry usually political, social, and cultural tensions as well.

The old rivalry reached its peak in the final round of 2000–01 Slovenian PrvaLiga season when one of the most celebrated matches in PrvaLiga Telekom Slovenije history was played, when NK Olimpija Ljubljana (1911) met Maribor at their home stadium, Bežigrad Stadium. Both teams were competing for their fifth PrvaLiga Telekom Slovenije 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) in front of 3,000 of their fans that gathered in Ljubljana that day. 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. 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. 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. 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, including part of the media. 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. 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. At the time Olimpija was still competing under the name Olimpija Bežigrad. 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. Before the establishment of the Slovenian PrvaLiga 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. It therefore maintains certain specific linguistic, cultural and religious features that differentiate it from other traditional Slovenian regions. and Prekmurje was therefore not just a natural barrier, but political as well. and Maribor eventually finished the season on third place, losing the title by two points.

Mura also has support during their matches from their ultras group, named the Black Gringos. 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. 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. 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. and the total of six Slovenian Cup titles is the highest in Slovenian football. Maribor holds the record for most consecutive league titles (7), ahead of NK Olimpija Ljubljana (1911–2004) (4) and ND Gorica (3). They are also the only team in the country that has achieved Slovenian Championship and Slovenian Cup 'Double (association football)' on more than one occasion (2). In addition, they have won the Slovenian Supercup once. On their official website, UEFA states that Maribor has won one international cup, as Maribor was one of the winners of UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2006 UEFA Intertoto Cup. Maribor have the best top-flight record in history, having finished bellow fourth place only once. Maribor also have the highest average league finishing position for the Slovenian league, with an average league placing of 2,25. 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 NK Rudar Velenje on 26 July, 2008. 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. The same team has also won two U–18 Cups and is therefore the most triumphant team in their category. Other teams are equally successful as U–16 holds the record for most titles (4), the same as U–14 team in their own category. 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 (U–18, U–16, U–14 and U–12) during the course of one season.

(double registration)

(double registration)



Retired numbers



Number 19 is the only Retired numbers in football (soccer) 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. He is considered as one of the best players to ever play for the club and played, both, as a Defender (association football) and Midfielder (association football). He played his last match with the club on 7 July 2005, in a friendly match against his former club HNK Hajduk Split. The winner of the trophy is decided among the season ticket holders and by a poll on the official website of the club, where everybody can participate. The voting starts at the end of the season and is usually finished in a month. The trophy itself is awarded to a player before the first match of the next season by a random selected fan (usually a season ticket holder). To be eligible to participate in a poll, a player must appear in at least 10 league matches of the season.

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Medical

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Management

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Footnotes


- Numbers in brackets indicate the number of appearances for the club during the respective period. Players may have more appearances during their whole career for the club and were not necessarily part of the team during the whole period (decade).





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