PFC Levski Sofia

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"Levski Sofia" redirects here. For the sports club, see Levski Sofia (sports club).
Levski Sofia
Levski Sofia emblem
Full name Професионален футболен клуб Левски София
(Professional Football Club Levski Sofia)
Nickname(s)

Сините (The Blues)

Отбора на народа (The Team of the People)
Founded 24 May 1914; 100 years ago (1914-05-24)
Ground Georgi Asparuhov Stadium, Sofia
Ground Capacity 18,000; 30,000 (after construction)
Chairman Bulgaria Todor Batkov
Manager Bulgaria Georgi Ivanov
League A Group
2013–14 A Group, 5th
Website Club home page
Current season

PFC Levski Sofia (Bulgarian: ПФК Левски София), commonly known as Levski, is a Bulgarian association football club based in Sofia, which currently competes in A Football Group, the top division of the Bulgarian football league system. The club was founded on May 24, 1914 by a group of young students, and is named after Vasil Levski, a Bulgarian revolutionary renowned as the national hero of Bulgaria.

Since its establishment, Levski Sofia has won 73 major domestic trophies (a national record): 26 A Group titles, 25 Bulgarian Cups, 3 SuperCups, 11 Sofia Championships, 3 Cups of the Soviet Army, 1 National Cup, 4 Ulpia Serdika Cups, and has achieved a record 13 doubles and 2 trebles. The Blues are also the team with most seasons played in the Bulgarian football championship and has never been relegated.

Internationally, Levski has reached three European Cup Winners' Cup quarter-finals and two UEFA Cup quarter-finals. In 2006, it became the first Bulgarian club to make it to the group stages of the UEFA Champions League.

The team's regular kit colour is all-blue. Levski '​s home ground is the Georgi Asparuhov Stadium in Sofia, which has a capacity of 18000 spectators. To date, the club's biggest rivals are CSKA Sofia, and matches between the two capital sides are commonly referred to as The Eternal Derby of Bulgaria.

History[edit]

Sport Club Levski (1914–1969)[edit]

First kit (1914–20)

[1] Sport Club Levski was founded in 1911 by a group of students at the Second Male High School in Sofia, with football as the major sport practiced. The club was officially registered on May 24, 1914, a date, which is celebrated as Levski's birthday. The club's name was chosen in honour of the Apostle of Bulgarian freedom Vasil Levski.

In 1914 Levski lost its first official match against FC 13 Sofia by 0:2. In that period (1914–1920) football wasn't a popular sport in Bulgaria, so there isn't any other information from the period concerning the club. In the summer of 1921, the Sofia Sports League was founded. It united 10 clubs from Sofia, marking the beginning of organized football competitions in the city. The Blues won the first match in the championship for the season 1921/1922, held on September 18, 1921, against Athletic Sofia with the score of 3:1. Levski captured the first place in the league in 1923 after a dramatic 3:2 win over bitter rival Slavia Sofia and successfully defended the title in the following season.

The first National Championship was held in 1924 with Levski representing Sofia. The team went on to win the title in 1933, 1937 and 1942, and established itself as the most popular football club in Bulgaria. Levski also became the holder for all times of the Ulpia Serdica Cup by virtue of winning it for the third time in a row in 1933. In 1929 Levski became the first semi-professional football club in Bulgaria, after 12 players staged a boycott of the team in demand of financial remuneration and insurance benefits. The same year Levski met its first international opponents, losing to Gallipoli Istanbul 0:1 and winning against Kuban Istanbul 6:0.

Levski kit during a large part of the 40s–60s [2]

After World War II, Levski became one of the two top clubs in Bulgaria. After winning the championship in 1946, 1947, 1949, 1950 and 1953 Levski would not capture the domestic title again until the mid-1960s. In 1949 the authorities changed the club's name to Dinamo following the Soviet traditions, but after the destalinization of Bulgaria, it was reverted in 1957. The 1960s were marked with return to success both on the domestic and on the international stage. Levski's academy would become the most successful in national youth competitions for the years to come, and the results were first seen in the likes of Georgi Asparuhov, Georgi Sokolov, Biser Mihailov, Kiril Ivkov, Ivan Vutsov, Stefan Aladzhov and Aleksandar Kostov, assisted by experienced veterans like Stefan Abadzhiev, Dimo Pechenikov and Hristo Iliev, who celebrated winning the championship in 1965, 1968 and 1970, and the 7:2 triumph over new bitter rival CSKA in 1968. The tie against Benfica in the European Cup in 1965 remained memorable for the Eusébio versus Georgi Asparuhov clash, and the recognition that the Portuguese great gave to his Bulgarian counterpart.

Levski-Spartak (1969–1985)[edit]

In January 1969 Levski was merged with Spartak Sofia and put under the auspice of the Bulgarian Interior Ministry. The name of the club was once again changed, this time to Levski-Spartak.

A new crop of youngsters in the likes of Kiril Milanov, Dobromir Zhechev, Pavel Panov, Todor Barzov, Voyn Voynov, Ivan Tishanski, Georgi Tsvetkov, Plamen Nikolov, and Rusi Gochev not only found their place in the first team, but brought new titles in 1974, 1977 and 1979. On the international stage the quarterfinal appearances in the Cup Winners Cup in 1970 and 1977, and in the UEFA Cup in 1976. Levski is up to this date the only European club to have scored five goals in a single game against Barcelona in a UEFA-sponsored international competition (UEFA CUP quarterfinals return leg, 17 March 1976).

Vitosha Sofia (1985–1989)[edit]

The name of the team was changed to Vitosha by the authorities following the disruptions during and after the Bulgarian Cup final in 1985. The game ran on high emotions fueled by the streak of consecutive victories of Levski over CSKA in the 2 years prior to the game (though CSKA won the Bulgarian Cup game 2-1). The controversial decisions of the referee led to confrontations both on the field and on the stands. By decree of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party some of the leading players both of the Blues and the Reds were suspended from the sport for life. The championship title of the club for 1985 was suspended. However, the suspensions were lifted shortly after.

Levski Sofia (1989–2009)[edit]

After the 1989/1990 season, the club regained its original name. The team composed of the newcomers Plamen Nikolov, Petar Hubchev, Tsanko Tsvetanov, Emil Kremenliev, Zlatko Yankov, Georgi Slavchev, Ilian Iliev, Daniel Borimirov, Stanimir Stoilov and Velko Yotov and the return of the veterans Plamen Getov, Nikolay Todorov and Nasko Sirakov, dictated the game in the domestic championship by winning the title in 1993, 1994 and 1995. Memorable wins by big margins over challengers Lokomotiv Sofia – 8:0, CSKA – 7:1 and Botev Plovdiv – 6:1, clearly demonstrated Levski's complete superiority. Home games in European Competitions against Rangers FC and Werder Bremen turned into true holidays for supporters. Levski contributed with 5 first team players (Petar Hubchev, Tsanko Tsvetanov, Emil Kremenliev, Zlatko Yankov and Nasko Sirakov) and three reserve players (Plamen Nikolov, Petar Aleksandrov and Daniel Borimirov) to the Bulgaria national football team that ended on fourth place in the unforgettable American summer of the World Cup 1994.

Another relatively unsuccessful period lasted until 2005. Then the young new manager and former player Stanimir Stoilov organized a team of Levski's academy products Zhivko Milanov, Milan Koprivarov and Valeri Domovchiyski, the experienced Elin Topuzakov, Georgi Petkov, Stanislav Angelov and Dimitar Telkiyski, the fans' favorites Hristo Yovov, Daniel Borimirov and Georgi Ivanov, who came back after spending time abroad, reached the quarterfinal stage of the UEFA Cup, knocking out AJ Auxerre, winnings against Olympique de Marseille, Dinamo Bucharest and finishing ahead of the reigning title holder CSKA Moscow in the group stage, triumphing over Champions League participants Artmedia Bratislava and Udinese Calcio, before being knocked out by Schalke 04 in a controversial tie.

Levski against Werder Bremen at the National Stadium in the Champions League

Levski, as the champions of Bulgaria, started their UEFA Champions League 2006-07 participation from the second qualiftying round, where they eliminated Georgian champions Sioni Bolnisi, defeating them 2-0 both home and away. In the third round, Levski faced Italian team Chievo Verona who are taking part in the tournament because of other clubs' sanctions as part of the 2006 Serie A matchfixing scandal. Levski eliminated Chievo after a decisive 2-0 win in Sofia and a secure 2-2 draw on Italian soil, and becoming the first Bulgarian club to ever reach the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.[3] There they faced last year's winners FC Barcelona from Spain, English champions Chelsea F.C. and German powerhouse Werder Bremen.[4]

Levski earned a spot in the UEFA Champions League 2008-09 after domestic champion CSKA Sofia failed to secure a UEFA license because of numerous debts to creditors.[5] Levski lost to FC BATE of Belarus in the third qualifying round.

Levski Sofia (2009-present)[edit]

During 2009/2010 season, Levski's team started their European campaign with 9:0 (on aggregate) in the second Qualifying round of Champions League against UE Sant Julià. On the next round, Levski Sofia faced FK Baku. The blues eliminated the team from Azerbaijan with 2:0 (on aggregate). In the play-off round Levski was eliminated by Debreceni VSC with 4:1 (on aggregate). However, Levski qualified for UEFA Europa League. In the group stage, Levski faced Villarreal CF, Lazio and Red Bull Salzburg. Levski achieved only one win and 5 losses. Levski took the win against SS Lazio, after Hristo Yovov scored the winning goal in the match. The match was played at Stadio Olimpico.

Levski started the 2010/2011 season with a match against Dundalk F.C. - a second qualifying round for Europa League. Levski won the first match and the result was 6:0.[6] In the return leg at Oriel Park, a confident Levski beat Dundalk FC 2-0 with two first half goals from Garra Dembele, the first on 4 mins and the second 10 mins before half-time. In the next round Levski played against Kalmar FF. The first match ended 1-1 in Sweden. In the return leg in Sofia Levski won 5:2. In between The Blues defeated their arch rival CSKA Sofia in the Eternal derby of Bulgarian football with 1:0. Their next match in the Europa League saw them play AIK Fotboll, from Stockholm, Sweden. The first match ended with a draw, 0-0 and after the game AIK-hooligans attacked the Levski players and staff, after Levski ultras did not show at meeting place. The second match ended in a 2-1 home win for Levski. Goals scored by Daniel Mladenov and Garra Dembélé put Levski in Europa League group stage. Levski was drawn in Group C, facing Gent, Lille and Sporting CP. The first match was against Gent. Levski won the match in a 3-2 home win. The winning goal was scored by Serginho Greene. With this win Levski recorded 8 games in-a-row without losing in European competitions. After that Levski lost catastrophically from Sporting CP with 5-0. Followed by another loss against Lille. In Sofia Levski played very well against Lille and was leading 2-1 until Ivo Ivanov scored an own goal to make it 2-2. In the last match of the Group C, Levski take a win against Sporting CP with 1-0, the winning goal was scored by Daniel Mladenov.

In the following 2011/12 season in the Third Qualifying Round of the Europa League, Levski were surprisingly eliminated by Spartak Trnava of Slovakia, following a late-minute 2-1 win in Sofia, and a loss of the same scoreline in Trnava. The penalty shootout cost Levski a place in the Playoff round. This caused an upset with the fans and players, the team barely clinching the fourth position at the winter break in the "A" PFG. Albeit only three points from the leaders Ludogoretz, the acting manager Gerogi Ivanov was sacked from the position, but remained in the club as a sporting director. Nikolay Kostov was appointed as the new manager of the club, giving the supporters a sense of optimism, which, however faded after a cup knock-out in the hands of Lokomotiv Plovdiv and a surprise loss at home to Minyor Pernik. Kostov shockingly handed in his resignation, leaving the managerial post once again vacant. Sporting Director Georgi Ivanov once again stepped up to help his club, and accepted being manager until the summer break, when a new one will be appointed.

Honours[edit]

Domestic[edit]

Bulgarian A Group

Bulgarian Cup

  • Winners (25 times – record): 1942, 1946, 1947, 1948–49, 1949–50, 1956, 1957, 1958–59, 1966–67, 1969–70, 1970–71, 1975–76, 1976–77, 1978–79, 1983–84, 1985–86, 1990–91, 1991–92, 1993–94, 1997–98, 1999–00, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2004–05, 2006–07

Bulgarian Supercup

Tsar's Cup / Cup of the Soviet Army / Bulgarian Cup

  • Winners (6 times – record): 1933, 1937, 1981–82, 1983–84, 1986–87, 1987–88

Ulpia Serdika Cup

  • Winners (4 times – record): 1926, 1930, 1931, 1932

Sofia Championship

  • Winners (11 times – record): 1922–23, 1923–24, 1924–25, 1928–29, 1932–33, 1936–37, 1941–42, 1942–43, 1944–45, 1945–46, 1947–48

Doubles and Trebles

  • The Double (13 times – record): 1942, 1946, 1947, 1948–49, 1949–50, 1969–70, 1976–77, 1978–79, 1983–84, 1993–94, 1999–00, 2001–02, 2006–07
  • The Treble (twice – record): 1983–84 and 2006–07

International[edit]

European Cup / UEFA Champions League

UEFA Cup / UEFA Europa League

European Cup Winners' Cup / UEFA Cup Winners' Cup

Balkans Cup

Notes:

1 Eliminated by FC Barcelona, Agg. 5 - 8
2 Eliminated by Schalke 04, Agg. 2 - 4
3 Eliminated by Gornik Zabrze, Agg. 4 - 4
4 Eliminated by Atlético Madrid, Agg. 2 - 3
5 Eliminated by Real Zaragoza, Agg. 0 - 4

European record[edit]

Including 2012-13 season.

Competition S P W D L GF GA GD
UEFA Champions League / European Cup 16 58 15 14 29 74 82 – 8
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup / European Cup Winners' Cup 12 36 14 5 17 70 55 + 15
UEFA Europa League / UEFA Cup 21 98 37 21 40 132 133 – 1
Total 49 192 66 40 86 276 270 + 6

Recent seasons[edit]

Season Position M W D L G.D. P Bulgarian Cup Bulgarian Super Cup UEFA Champions League UEFA Europa League Notes
2007/08 2 30 19 5 6 56:19 62 Quarter-finals Winner Second qualifying round Did not participate
2008/09 1 30 21 6 3 57:18 69 Semi-finals Did not participate Third qualifying round First round
2009/10 3 30 17 6 7 57:26 57 Round of 16 Winner Play-off round Group Stage
2010/11 2 30 23 3 4 67:24 72 Quarter-finals Did not participate Did not participate Group Stage
2011/12 3 30 20 2 8 61:28 62 Quarter-finals Did not participate Did not participate Third qualifying round
2012/13 2 30 22 5 3 59:20 71 Finalist Did not participate Did not participate Second qualifying round
2013/14 5 38 19 5 14 59:39 62 Quarter-finals Did not participate Did not participate First qualifying round

Club symbols[edit]

Names and emblems[edit]

The first club emblem designed by Mincho Kachulev in 1922. It was square with a blue background, which is written in a stylised letter "Л" (Bulgarian letter "L" short for Levski). The inner space of the letter was filled vertically equally in yellow and red. Later in the top two corners of the square are the letters "С" (Sport) and "К" (club) above the bottom side of the square is inscribed "Sofia". This badge was used by the club until 1949, when it was renamed Dinamo.

From 1949 to 1956, the emblem of the club was an irregular hexagon filled with vertical red, white, blue and yellow and inscribed handwritten letter "Д" with a red five-pointed star above it and the words "Sofia" underneath. From 1957 to 1968 the original logo was restored, but instead of "C" and "К" there was "Ф" (Athletic) and "Д" (union).

After the merger with Spartak Sofia in 1969, the emblem of the club has been a shield in blue and white with a horizontal red bar above. In the shield entered the letters "Л" and "C", an abbreviation of the new name Levski-Spartak. The club had this emblem until 1985, when it was renamed Vitosha. The new emblem is in the form of a stylised letter "C" surrounding the football in the upper curve of the letter, coloured in blue and white.

In January 1990 the club restored its original name and original logo, the letters "C" and "K" in the upper corner of the blue square were replaced with "Ф" (football) and "K" (club). Due to legal issues with the ownership of the rights to the historic emblem the club was forced to change it in 1998, a new shield emblem was introduced, entirely in blue. At its centre was the letter "Л" and below was the year of establishment - 1914. The dome of the shield was labelled "PFC Levski".

After winning the case for the rights to the historic emblem in 2006, the club decided to use the two different logos simultaneously for a brief period. Later that year the shield emblem was completely abandoned and the classic square emblem has been used ever since.

Current squad[edit]

First team[edit]

As of 12 August 2014 Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 Republic of Macedonia GK Kristijan Naumovski
3 Tunisia DF Aymen Belaïd
4 Bulgaria DF Miki Orachev
5 Bulgaria DF Borislav Stoychev
7 Bulgaria MF Anton Ognyanov
8 Bulgaria MF Georgi Sarmov
10 Spain MF Miguel Bedoya
11 Netherlands MF Luís Pedro
12 Bulgaria MF Bozhidar Kraev
13 Algeria MF Najib Ammari
14 Bulgaria DF Veselin Minev
15 Slovakia MF Roman Procházka
16 Bulgaria MF Miroslav Ivanov
17 Bulgaria FW Valeri Domovchiyski
No. Position Player
18 Bulgaria MF Borislav Tsonev
19 Bulgaria FW Iliya Dimitrov
20 Spain FW Añete
21 Bulgaria MF Radoslav Tsonev
22 Bulgaria MF Vladislav Misyak
23 Bulgaria GK Plamen Iliev
24 Bulgaria GK Aleksandar Lyubenov
29 Bulgaria DF Deyan Ivanov
33 Bulgaria DF Galin Tashev
35 Bulgaria DF Plamen Dimov
45 Bulgaria MF Vladimir Gadzhev (captain)
71 Bulgaria MF Plamen Krumov
77 Bulgaria MF Stefan Velev

For recent transfers, see List of Bulgarian football transfers summer 2014.

Foreign players[edit]

Up to five non-EU nationals can be registered and given a squad number for the first team in the A PFG however only three can be used during a match day. Those non-EU nationals with European ancestry can claim citizenship from the nation their ancestors came from. If a player does not have European ancestry he can claim Bulgarian citizenship after playing in Bulgaria for 5 years.

EU Nationals

EU Nationals (Dual citizenship)

Non-EU Nationals

Note: For a complete list of Levski Sofia players, see Category:PFC Levski Sofia players.

Club officials[edit]

Club Ownership[edit]

Status Owner(s)
Owner, Majority Shareholder Bulgaria Todor Batkov

Board of Directors[edit]

Stadium[edit]

Initially, the club did not possess a field of its own and training was held on an empty space called The Hillock (Могилката/Mogilkata), where the National Palace of Culture was built later. In 1924 the Sofia Municipality provided the club with the rights to an empty field on what were then the outskirts of the city, and a decade later the stadium named Levski Field was finally completed. It provided for 10000 spectators and was regarded as the finest sport facility in the city.

In 1949 the stadium was nationalized and later the Vasil Levski National Stadium was built on the site. The team played in various locations (including the nearby Yunak Stadium) before moving to the "Dinamo" ground, which was located at the site of the modern Spartak swimming complex. In 1961 after districting the team moved to "Suhata Reka" neighborhood. There a new stadium was completed in 1963, renamed in 1990 in honor of Levski's most beloved former player Georgi Asparuhov.

In 1999 the stadium emerged from serious reconstruction for 29000 spectators. The field measures 105 x 68 meters. However, the team plays most of its important games versus foreign teams on the national stadium "Vasil Levski". The club president Todor Batkov has recently demanded that Levski should receive "Rakovski" stadium on loan. This should be done on account that the first club stadium was nationalized and Levski have never been repaid.

In October, 2012, it was announced that Levski is rebuilding its stadium. The first phase of the planned reconstruction is to be completed in 2014, on the centennial of the club's foundation. As of 2013 the capacity is reduced to 18000 due to the undergoing reconstruction of the main stand. On 5 July 2013, the first step was made in the construction of the main stand, which will have a capacity of 6000 spectators and will meet all the requirements of UEFA for the convenience of fans. Contractor of the "blue" building will be the leading Bulgarian company in the construction of road infrastructure and other important rehabilitation projects, “Avtomagistrali - Tcherno more” AD.

Supporters[edit]

Sector B

Historically, Levski Sofia fans gathered in the south stand of the stadium. This tradition is believed to have its roots in the Sofia Derby when Levski fans met before the games at the area close to the south end of the Vasil Levski National Stadium. Due to the orientation of the stadium and the naming conventions of stands at most Bulgarian stadiums, Sector B became synonymous with Levski fans. More recently the fans in Sector B are seen as part of the Ultras movement popular in central and eastern Europe. Today Sector B initiates most of the songs, choreography and pyrotechnic displays at Levski games. Levski supporters are organized by fanclubs, most notably the National Supporters Club which helps and coordinates fans from all around Bulgaria and supports the organization of events. There are also notable groups from Sofia (Sofia-West, South Division, Blue Junta, HD Boys and LSL) and other cities across Bulgaria (such as Ultra Varna, Blue Huns Pernik, OCB Veliko Tarnovo, Torcida Kyustendil, Iron Pazardzhik, Youth Brigade 034 Pazardzik, Blue Warriors Plovdiv, Blue Boys Blagoevgrad, Vandals Pleven, Levski Club Dobrich, Ultras Radomir, Ultras Burgas, Ultras Vidin, Levski 1914 Karlovo and many more.)

UEFA & IFFHS rankings[edit]

Club sponsors[edit]

Due to a change in the marketing programme, Levski Sofia signed contracts with three international firms in a week[when?] - cola producer Pepsi, Russian bank VTB Capital, Turkish healthcare group Acibadem, as well as renewing its contract with the largest Bulgarian mobile phone network, MTel. Levski also have contracts with other firms, including Ceresit, German car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz, Bulgarian bookmaker Eurofootball, Gorna Banya, DB Schenker, and others.

Player records[edit]

Players in bold are currently playing for the team. Statistic is correct as of match played 11 August 2010.

Managerial history[edit]

Bulgarian Footballer of the Year[edit]

A Group top goalscorers[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Levski – 94 years of joy, pains and hopes". Levski.bg. 
  2. ^ "Bulgarian Football Union History". Retrieved 4 March 2012. 
  3. ^ "Levski make Bulgarian history". Uefa.com. Retrieved 2006-08-23. 
  4. ^ "Levski land to heroes' welcome". Uefa.com. Retrieved 2006-08-24. 
  5. ^ "Levski set to replace CSKA in Champions League". Football24.bg. Retrieved 2008-07-30. 
  6. ^ "Dundalk way out of depth in Sofia". irishtimes.com. July 7, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-16. 
  7. ^ "UEFA Club Rankings". UEFA.com. 2013-05-15. Retrieved 2013-05-15. 
  8. ^ "Club World Ranking". IFFHS.de. 2013-03-01. Retrieved 2013-03-05. 

External links[edit]

Official websites

Fan websites