POFC Botev Vratsa
|Full name||Professional Municipal Football Club Botev Vratsa|
(The Green Lions)
|Ground||Hristo Botev Stadium, Vratsa|
|2013–14||B Group, 6th|
POFC Botev Vratsa (Bulgarian: ПОФК Ботев Враца), or simply Botev is a Bulgarian association football club based in Vratsa, which currently competes in B Football Group, the second division of the Bulgarian football league system. The club was founded in 1921.
Botev Vratsa is one of the most prominent football clubs in Bulgaria, playing its home matches at Hristo Botev Stadium. The team's home stadium was built in 1948. It is situated in the Hristo Botev sport complex, in the east part of Vratsa. The stadium originally holds 32 000 seats. After a recent reconstruction, which took place in the first half of 2008 and in 2009 the stadium has 3 reconstructed seated sectors with a total of 6000 seats.
Botev Vratsa Football Club was founded in 1921 by Nikola Kunov, Ivan Abuzov, Nako Paunov, Gergo Boytchev, Todor Orozov, Hristo Lighenski and Angel Rachinski. The place of foundation is a playground near the Old market in Vratsa. Between 1921 and 1956 various sport clubs are founded in the city. In 1957 most of the sport clubs in the city are joined together to form FC Botev Vratsa. Between 1957 and 1964 Botev Vratsa is a member of Bulgarian second division. In 1964 the club enters the Bulgarian top division and plays there for 26 seasons. The team of Vratsa has 788 games in the top flight of Bulgarian football.
Botev's most glorious moment comes in 1971, when the team finished third in Bulgarian top division, after CSKA Sofia and Levski Sofia. Botev did, however, represent Bulgaria in the 1971-72 UEFA Cup where they lost in the first round to Dinamo Zagreb from Croatia 2-8 on aggregate. The first game in Vratsa, in the presence of 35 000 spectators, ended with a 2-1 loss. The second game in Zagreb finished 6-1.
The biggest success in the Bulgarian Cup is a semi-final in 1960-61, 1974–75 and 1984-85. In 1989-90 Botev was relegated to second division. In the next 19 years the club participated in either the second or the third Bulgarian divisions.
Among the club's legendary players is Martin Petrov, considered by most Botev fans as the greatest player to have ever been involved with the club, and one of the greatest Bulgarian players. The list of other famous players to have come from the clubs' youth system consists of Ilia Valov, Valentin Iliev, and Valentin Stanchev. Nikolay Penkov is the player with most league appearances for the club - 334. The player with most league goals for the club is Georgi Kamenov, with 150 goals for Botev.
In May 2009, after 6 years in the Bulgarian third division, OFC Botev Vratsa were finally promoted to the Bulgarian B Professional Football Group (Second division). The team managed a record 28 games without a loss and secured the top spot two weeks before the end of the season. During the campaign, OFC Botev recorded some astonishing results, defeating FC Sitomir Nikopol by 9:0, OFC Levski 2007 by 7:0 and scoring the most goals by a visiting team away at FC Bali 2002 - 8:2. In June 2009, following a suggestion by the fan club, the team changed its official logo to commemorate the promotion.
In their return to second division, Botev Vratsa finished in 6th place.
Colours, signs and symbols
Botev is known as one of the "green" teams in Bulgaria, but red is just as characteristic in the club's history. Until 1971, the home colours were red and black vertical stripes. To commemorate the 50th anniversary, officials decided to re-brand the entire image of Botev by selecting green as main colour from 1972 on. At the same time, the club logo was also changed, selecting a lion as its centerpiece to commemorate the revolutionary flags of the Hristo Botev revolutionaries. Until that point, the portrait of Hristo Botev himself was used as club logo. The most recent re-branding of the club was in 2009, when the fans initiated a return of the lion to the club logo, almost 15 years after it had been removed. The new logo, which incorporated the original graphic from 1971 was crafted by life-long fan Aleksandar Alekov.
- Bulgarian Cup:
- Semi-finals (2): 1960/61, 1974/75
- Veselin Ivanov
- Sasho Angelov (2009–11)
- Atanas Dzhambazki (Sept 2011–Oct 11)
- Todor Garev (Oct 2011–Dec 11)
- Antoni Zdravkov (Dec 2011–Aug 12)
- Giuliano Sonzogni (Aug 2012–Sept 12)
- Antoni Zdravkov  (Sept 2012–)
- "B" Group archive
- "Botev Vratsa history". botevvratsa.com. Retrieved 2014-05-29.
- "Italian head coach signs Botev Vratsa (in Bulgarian)". Livesport.bg. Retrieved 2012-08-06.
- "Botev Vratsa appoint the new manager". Gong.bg. Retrieved 2012-09-20.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to POFC Botev Vratsa.|
- Official website - in Bulgarian
- Unofficial website - in Bulgarian
- Botev Vratza Picture Gallery - in Bulgarian