|Valley of Cups|
|Location||Ulica Zvornička 21, Grbavica, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina|
|Owner||FK Željezničar Sarajevo|
|Field size||105 x 66 m (114.8 x 72.2 yd)|
|Opened||13 September 1953|
|Renovated||25 April 1976|
|FK Željezničar Sarajevo (1953-1968, 1976-present)|
Grbavica Stadium is located in Grbavica, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The football stadium has terraces close to the pitch and it is the home of FK Željezničar. The stadium has a capacity to hold about 16,100 spectators, with officially 8,898 places that are seated. It is also known as the "Valley of Cups".
The building of the football ground in Grbavica started during the late 1940s by SD Željezničar. Although there were several football pitches with bleachers and stands in Sarajevo at the time (including the freshly built Koševo Stadium), it was decided by communist authorities that Željezničar should have its own playing facility. Many of the club's supporters, friends, and members, including a number Yugoslav People's Army personnel helped in the construction of the stadium. Unlike Koševo that was a large-scale project with generous state support through funds and manpower, Grbavica had a lot fewer people working on it and as a result took much longer to complete. A new pitch with a drainage system was built and the stands were built with concrete. The south and east side were made out of concrete, while wooden stands that were taken from the Marijin Dvor ground that was torn down, got placed on the west side. At first, Grbavica was a multi-use stadium. Competitions in cycling and athletics were organized, as well as football matches. Eventually its use became football only. It was officially opened on September 13, 1953 with the Yugoslav Second League western division match between Željezničar and Šibenik. Željezničar won 4-1.
In 1968 renovations on the stadium began and on April 25, 1976 Grbavica was re-opened. About 50,000 cubic meters of materials were used, and the floodlights were installed. Two training pitches and the "little sports stadium" were added, as well as new dressing rooms, showers and other important facilities. The Đurasović family were the first donors.
1986: Northern stand added
In 1986 a proper northern stand was finally built. There were plans for the whole stadium to be remodeled and encircled to look like the newly built north stand, but they got shelved for the time being. As a result of the renovations, in October 1987, Yugoslav national football team (coached at the time by Željo legend Ivica Osim) played its first ever match at the stadium. In a Euro 88 qualification clash versus Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia won 3-0.
The stadium suffered heavy structural damage during the Bosnian War that broke out in 1992. The stadium was located between the first front lines and endured heavy fighting. Bosnian Serbs' forces burned the wooden terraces. It was not until 1996 that a football match would be played here again. Symbolically, the first match after the war was the local derby.
After the Bosnian War
It was partly remodelled in following years. In 2004, 8898 seats were installed on the north and south stand and some small work was done to the terraces. The last major job done on the stadium was in 2008–09 when the floodlights were repaired. On 22 April 2009, after about 18 years, a game under floodlights was again played on Grbavica. There are new proposals for a major overhaul of the current facilities. The new project proposes the creation of new roofed terraces on each side, and the increase of the capacity to 24,000 seated places. Other facilities such as a training ground near the stadium are proposed. These new proposals are still waiting financial backing.
On Monday, 13 February 2012, a section of the roof above the west stand collapsed after 10 days of heavy snowfall that buried the whole city of Sarajevo under more than a meter of snow setting a new record of height of snow in the city, causing a natural catastrophe, halting all of the public transportation for at least 3 days and causing widespread road and other types of blocking in the country and the city, resulting in many damages on buildings (like collapsing roofs and similar) and financial losses. The roof of the ice hall at the Skenderija sport complex also collapsed just a day before, just as the balloon covering the Zetra Ice Rink track near the Olympic Hall Zetra, which collapsed couple of days before. The weight on a square meter of surface was about 160 kg, while, for example, the supporting weight of the ice hall was about 100 kg per square meter. The main reason stated for the collapsing of the roof (and also the roof of the ice hall) was the bad maintenance of the whole terrace and roof were the snow wasn't removed since the first snowfall, but also the war damages on the buildings.
The stadium is located in the Grbavica neighbourhood, under the Šanac Hill which was traversed by railway tracks. When the train was passing over the stadium, it would sound its horn to salute the crowd. Nowadays, the old railway is no longer in use. There are however trolleybuses that pass by the stadium and visitors are able to come to the stadium using other modes of public transportation as well. The tramway line is also very close near the Socijalno station, which is located 600 meters away from the stadium.
By far the most notable match played at the stadium was the 1984-85 UEFA Cup semifinal return leg on Wednesday, 24 April 1985 between Željezničar and Hungarian visitors Videoton FC from Székesfehérvár. Videoton brought a 1-3 advantage from the first leg, however, the home side fought valiantly in front of the racous home crowd of 27,000 fans and was 2-0 ahead on goals by Edin Bahtić in the 5th and Edin Ćurić in the 62nd minute. Just a few minutes from the end, Željo still had a result that would see it take on mighty Real Madrid in the UEFA Cup final. However, disaster struck in the 87th minute when Videoton right back József Csuhay was left unmarked and scored a goal for 2-1 that took his team to the final and saw Željezničar's hopes dashed in the cruelest of fashions.
|14 October 1987||Yugoslavia||3–0||Northern Ireland||Euro 88 qualifying|
|15 August 2001||Bosnia and Herzegovina||2–0||Malta||Friendly|
|27 March 2002||Bosnia and Herzegovina||4–4||Macedonia||Friendly|
|10 August 2010||Bosnia and Herzegovina||1–1||Qatar||Friendly|
Club friendly matches
As part of the 90th birthday celebration for the FK Željezničar, on November 8, 2011 the team welcomed a full strength national football team of Bosnia and Herzegovina and played a friendly that finished 1:2 in favor of the visitors. The scorer for the national team was Vedad Ibišević with two goals. The lone scorer for FK Željezničar was Mirsad Bešlija.
- Željezničar je prije 60 godina dobio dom, svoju Grbavicu;klix.ba, 13 September 2013
- scsport.ba (November 8, 2011). "Željo odlično sparingovao Zmajevima" (in Bosnian). scsport.ba. Retrieved 2011-11-08.
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