FK Željezničar Sarajevo
|Full name||Fudbalski Klub Željezničar Sarajevo|
Plavi (The Blues)
|Founded||19 September 1921|
|Website||Club home page|
|Sport clubs of SD Željezničar|
(M · W)
|Table Tennis||Weightlifting||Other clubs|
Fudbalski klub Željezničar (English: Football Club Željezničar) is a Bosnian professional football club based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The name Željezničar means "railway worker", given because it was established by a group of railway workers. In Bosnia, the club is traditionally known for producing talented players, rather than signing them. The club usually relies on selling its most talented players at the end of each season  to survive financially.
During the time of the former Yugoslavia, FK Željezničar were national champions once in the 1971–72 season, qualifying the club for the European Cup during the 1972–73 season where they were eliminated in the first round. The club has also finished as runners-up once in the league, as well as playing in a 1980–81 Yugoslav Cup final. In Europe, the club is most famous for reaching both the UEFA Cup semifinals during the 1984–85 season and the quarter-finals during the 1971–72 season.
The club is the first Bosnian team to reach the UEFA Cup semifinals and one of the few teams ever to do so from Yugoslavia. Željezničar is the most successful football team in present-day Bosnia, having won 6 Bosnian championships, 5 Bosnian Cups and 3 Bosnian Supercups. The club has never qualified for UEFA Champions League (post European Cup) as best club could reach was 2002–03 Champions League third qualifying round, losing to Newcastle United 0–5 on aggregate. Local town rival is FK Sarajevo.
According to the IFFHS list of the Top 200 European clubs of the 20th century, an organization recognized by FIFA, Željezničar is the highest ranked Bosnian club, sharing the 110th position on the list with AZ Alkmaar and Vitória F.C.. The club has produced many Yugoslav and Bosnian greats, including Ivica Osim, Božo Janković, Mehmed Baždarević, Josip Katalinski, Edin Bahtić, Haris Škoro, Dželaludin Muharemović, Almir Gredić, Edin Višća and Edin Džeko.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Pre-independence (1921–1992)
- 1.2 Post Bosnia and Herzegovina independence
- 2 Stadium
- 3 Name of the club
- 4 Colours
- 5 Supporters
- 6 Rivalry
- 7 Players
- 8 Player of the Year
- 9 Notable players & managerial history
- 10 Club seasons
- 11 Željezničar in Europe
- 12 Honours
- 13 Kit manufacturers
- 14 Records
- 15 References
- 16 External links
Željezničar was formed by a group of railway workers. During the early 20th century, there were several football clubs in Sarajevo. They were rich and usually backed by various organizations, most of them on an ethnic basis: Bosniaks, Serbs, Bosnian Croats, Bosnian Jews. But Željezničar was a club for the common people, people interested in football and fun. Since it was a financially poor club, they used to organize dance nights and all the profits made were later used to buy shoes and balls.
Financial problems were not the only ones. The club's multiethnicity was seen as a threat by many, so Željezničar was suppressed in various ways. Despite that, the club managed to survive, and even beat stronger and wealthier clubs. The first official match, a friendly, was played at Kovačići, a Sarajevo settlement, on September 17, 1921 against SAŠK which resulted in 1–5 defeat. The next day another game was played a 1–2 loss vs Sarajevski ŠK.
In 1941, World War II came to Sarajevo, and every football activity was stopped. Many footballers were members of the resistance troops, and some of them were killed. After the war, Željo was formed again, and in 1946 it won the Bosnian championship. That secured them a place in the final tournament with the champions of the other Yugoslav republics. Soon after, Sarajevo citizens formed a new club called FK Sarajevo, the club that has remained a major irritant to Željezničar fans (known as The Maniacs) until today. That had a devastating influence on the club, so it needed several years to come back to first division. For most of the time, Željezničar played in the top level. It was relegated four times (the last time in the 1976/77 season), but every time (except the first time in 1947) it returned quickly.
UEFA Cup 1971–72 quarter-finalists
The club first appeared in European competitions during the 1963–64 Mitropa Cup, however serious competitions had to wait until the early 1970s when the team finished the 1970–71 Yugoslav First League season in second position, a result which allowed the club to play in the 1971–72 UEFA Cup where they made the quarter-finals on their very first appearance losing to Ferencvárosi on the away goals rule.
1971–72 Yugoslav champions
1971–72 Yugoslav First League table (top 5 only):
||Qualification or relegation
|1||Željezničar (C)||34||21||9||4||55||20||+35||51||1972–73 European Cup|
Their greatest domestic success at the time came in the 1971/1972 season when the team won the championship title, their only top-tier title in the Yugoslav period, which qualified the club for the European Cup during the 1972–73 season where they were eliminated in the first round by Derby County.
FK Željezničar also finished in third place in the top-tier league on two occasions in a league traditionally dominated by the big four clubs (Red Star Belgrade, Partizan Belgrade, Hajduk Split and Dinamo Zagreb).
1980–81 Marshal Tito Cup finalists
In the 1980/1981 season, Željezničar reached the Yugoslav cup final (Marshal Tito Cup), but lost 2–3 to another Bosnian side Velež Mostar with both Mehmed Baždarević and Vahid Halilhodžić scoring a brace for their respective teams. The venue for the final was Stadion Crvene Zvezde in Belgrade played in front of 40,000 fans. That season Željezničar finished the 1980–81 Yugoslav First League in a disappointing 14th position which meant the club did not play in Europe even though it made the Yugoslav Cup final.
UEFA Cup 1984–85 semi-finalists
Željezničar's biggest international result was recorded in the 1984–1985 season when the team, led by manager Ivica Osim, reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup (renamed to UEFA Europa League since the 2009–10 season) where they were eliminated by Hungarian team Videoton, having finished the domestic championship in third place to qualify for the competition. Željezničar appeared to have had the result at home, leading 2–0 (3–3 on aggregate) against the Hungarians that would send them into a final against Spanish club Real Madrid on the away goals rule; however, two minutes from full-time Videoton scored a crucial goal, eliminating the home side 4–3 on aggregate. Edin Bahtić finished the competition as second-top scorer with 7 goals, one short of József Szabó.
Prior to this success, the team played the quarter-final stage of the inaugural year of the UEFA Cup competition.
Post Bosnia and Herzegovina independence
After the breakup of Yugoslavia and another war, Grbavica stadium was occupied and football was off again. Players like Mario Stanić, Rade Bogdanović, Gordan Vidović, Suvad Katana and many others went abroad to escape the horror of war. Somehow the club managed to rise again. At first, young players practised indoors in school gyms. The stadium was right on the front lines and destroyed, and yet Željezničar played in the Bosnian war championship held in 1994. The fourth-place result was not as important as simply taking part.
The war ended in 1995 so a regular championship was formed. Željezničar have since won five titles, one more striking than the others. During the 1998 championship, a play-off was held and the final match saw two big rivals playing for the trophy. FK Sarajevo played well, their shots were cleared from the goal-line twice. In the 89th minute, one ball was intercepted on the left side, and after a couple of passes it came to Željezničar forward Hadis Zubanović who scored a dramatic winner.
Modern era; new beginnings
FK Željezničar are the only club that were able to defend their title in the Premier League, as champions in the 2000–01 and 2001–02 season under the command of Ivica Osim's son, Amar Osim. The club repeated this success again in the early 2010s. Under Amar's command, Željezničar also won the 2000–01 national cup, which completed the double, the first time any club in Bosnia and Herzegovina achieved that, securing also the 2001 Bosnian Super Cup. In 2001–02 they were runner-ups in the cup, but were not able to defend their Bosnian Super Cup title (even though they won the league) as it was discontinued. Amar was dismissed from the club in October 2003 after the club was runner-up in 2002–03 season, won the 2002–03 national cup and reached the club's biggest European success since competing as part of the Bosnia and Herzegovina league, that is the 2002–03 Champions league third qualifying round which they lost against Newcastle United. They continued their journey in the UEFA Cup, losing to Málaga due to a penalty they scored in the second leg. Željezničar finished as runners-up both seasons after Amar Osim's departure. After they secured qualification for the 2005–06 UEFA Cup through their league position, they failed to get a licence for European competition, missing out on substantial financial gain from UEFA. This led to many problems for the club, and over the next four seasons Željezničar struggled in the middle of the league.
As the best Bosnian club, the club played in European cups every year. The biggest result (for Bosnian club football as well since independence) came in 2002, when Željezničar reached the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League, having eliminated Akraness and Lillestrøm in previous rounds to get there. Sir Bobby Robson's Newcastle United, captained by Alan Shearer, were too strong, winning 5–0 on aggregate when Sanel Jahić received a red card in the 69th minute of the reverse leg at St James' Park. The game was held at Koševo Stadium in front of 36,000 fans from all over Bosnia, and to this day is among the best attended games in Bosnian club football history, although short of a match at the same stadium between the Bosnia and Herzegovina national football team's 2–1 friendly win over Italy in November 1996, which was attended by 40,000. Newcastle United reached the second, group stage of the tournament.
The club as result of losing to Newcastle United entered UEFA Cup 2002–03 third qualifying round but lost to Málaga who were an eventual quarter-finalist.
Osim returns; multiple champions
With the return of Amar Osim in summer 2009, Željezničar once more claimed the title in the 2009–10 season, but failed to take the double as they lost in the final of the 2009–10 Bosnian cup to Borac on away goals, while remaining undefeated. In the following 2010–11 season, the club failed to defend their Premier League title, finishing third. However the club managed to win the national cup instead, their fourth, against Čelik. During the 2011–12 season, they brought back the league title to Grbavica, their seventh domestic league title, three rounds before the end of the season, breaking many records on the way (run of 35 games without loss; 12 straight league wins; 3 seasons in Bosnian Cup competition without loss). Željezničar also won the 2011–12 Bosnian cup, claiming their second double in their history, both won under the coaching of Amar Osim. As a result, Amar Osim became the most successful manager in terms of trophies won since the creation of the football club, with nine. The club is yet to lose a single Bosnian Cup match since the first round of the 2008–09 Bosnian Cup season, having won two Cup finals and losing one on aggregate since the 2008–09 season.
During the 2010/2011 season Željezničar won their fourth cup of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They have advanced to the final beating Široki Brijeg on 3:0 aggregate. In the final they clash with rival from former Yugoslav League Čelik. First game was played at Grbavica Stadium which finished 1:0 in favor of the home team. Second game was played at Bilino Polje Stadium which Željezničar won 3:0 and won 4:0 on aggregate. That concluded Željezničar's season in they automatically gives them to compete in Europa League. Željezničar celebrated their 90th birthday with a trophy.
In season 2011/2012 Željezničar has won their 6th title in the team's existence. They won the title with three rounds left in the competition. They repeated the successful campaign in cup competition also when they won the title with 1–0 on aggregate against NK Široki Brijeg. That was the first double for any club since unified Bosnia and Herzegovina football competitions started in 2002–2003 season.
European results in decline
Since 2005, financial problems (due to continuous slow recovery from Bosnian War), frequent coaching and player changes and weak club management, resulted in poor results and supporters' disappointment. Upcoming privatization and the stadium ownership issue are two major causes of the club's problems. Supporters have boycotted the club and the attendance at the time was lowest in years. In 2010 the team had many changes including the chairman and the coach President FK Željezničar Sabahudin Žujo and Nijaz Brković all replaced. Fans tend to fill up stadiums only when the club plays versus a big European club in UEFA preliminary stages.
After Bosnia and Herzegovina independence, all continental football competitions organized by UEFA, Željezničar hosts at the Asim Ferhatović Hase Stadium (Koševo Stadium) as Grbavica stadium (which is used in domestic League and Cup only) does not satisfy UEFA requirements. Looking from the positive perspective, the club rarely loses at home in Sarajevo, and statistics show that in all minor European tournaments, Željezničar has only lost 5 home matches from 35 played (not including European Cup/UEFA Champions League), while the away statistics show the team tends to win less away, with only 8 won from 35 played. Željezničar is far less successful when playing in UEFA Champions League preliminary stages, having faced 8 opponents, it only triumphed versus two on aggregate over the course of clubs history.
When the club was founded, it had no stadium. There were several football grounds in Sarajevo, but other clubs didn't want to allow Željezničar to use them. So the club used a military training pitch called Egzercir which wasn't actually a football ground. However, it was the best ground they could get and will always be remembered as the club's first pitch. Egzercir was located in a part of Sarajevo known as Čengić Vila. In 1932 a new ground was built in Pofalići (yet another part of Sarajevo), close to the railway station. It wasn't much better than the last one, but it was built by the club and because of that it had a special meaning.
After World War II, Željezničar played at the "6 April" Stadium in Marijin Dvor (there is a building now behind the technical sciences secondary school) until 18 June 1950. Authorities planned to build a street, so the club made another move to military stadium in Skenderija. Club staff was tired of all that moving and they decided to build its own stadium in Grbavica (also part of the city). Friends, supporters, members of the club and even military, all helped in construction. Stadium was officially opened on 13 September 1951. with the second league match between Željezničar and Šibenik. Željezničar won 4–1.
Ever since, Grbavica has been a place of joy and sorrow for the club and its supporters. Symbolically, the old railway line passed over the hill behind the stadium, and every time a train went by during a match it would sound its whistle to salute the fans. The stadium had small stands on the east and south side, while wooden stands with a roof were located on the west side. Because of the reconstruction, Željezničar moved again in 1968 to Koševo Stadium. They played there until 25 April 1976 and even won the club's only Yugoslav title in 1972 playing there.
Grbavica was opened again that year, and in the '80s modern northern stands were built. Unfortunately, war began in 1992 and Željezničar yet again needed to play on Koševo Stadium until 2 May 1996 when it came back to Grbavica. During the 1990s war the stadium suffered heavy structural damage. 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. Wooden stands that burned up during the war will be rebuilt as part of a project for new modern stadium but is on hold waiting for financial back-up.
Before the war, stadium capacity was more than 20,000, but now it officially has 8,898 seated places, but some 8,000 more can fill the unseated parts of the stadium.
Name of the club
Željezničar was formed as RŠD Željezničar (Radničko športsko društvo, eng. Workers' sports society). Željezničar means railwayman or railway worker. Later it was known as FK Željezničar (Fudbalski klub, eng. football club), and was a part of SD Željezničar (Sportsko društvo, eng. sports society) which includes the clubs in other sports (basketball, handball, volleyball, chess, bowling, etc.) with the same name. In 1993, initial acronym was changed to NK (Nogometni klub, eng. football club). In Bosnian, both fudbal and nogomet are equally used as a word for football. The word fudbal is dominant in eastern and nogomet in western parts of the country. Since 2000, club's name is officially with initial FK again.
In the modern times, there is even a restaurant named after the club's name. Such example is the national dish Ćevapi restaurant at the heart of Sarajevo called Ćevabdžinica "Željo".
Blue is traditionally colour of railway workers in this part of Europe. Since the club was founded by the railway workers, blue was a logical choice. Standard navy blue colour was always on the club's crest, but it is a different story with kits. Sometimes they were light blue, sometimes regular blue, and sometimes navy blue as it is on the crest. Sometimes kits were blue and white vertical striped. For some games in 1999–2000 season, kits were striped horizontally, and in 2002–2003 season they were even dark grey, without any traces of blue. Away kit was always white.
On the left side of the kit, by the heart, stands a crest. Since the foundation of the club, standard elements of the crest were ball and wings, also a traditional railway symbol. These standard elements were changed in design several times in the past. Some other elements were added or excluded in some periods of history. For example, circle around the original crest was added in the 1990s. From 1945. to 1992. red five-pointed star stood in place of the ball, and words "The Maniacs", "Sarajevo", "1987" and others were moved form one part of the crest to another many times. Current design dates back to 2000.
In popular culture, Stole Anđelović (Stole iz Bora) – a passionate club supporter from Bor, is known decades (over 40 years) for traveling 450 km to attend most FK Željezničar Sarajevo home games, and was a long time supporter of Yugoslav national team as well as fan of Ivica Osim.
Sarajevo derby (Vječiti derbi)
Željezničar has a fierce rivalry with their city-rivals Sarajevo, which is known as the Sarajevo derby, the biggest derby in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is contested regularly since both teams are part of the Premier League of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Many Željezničar supporters say that "Željo is a matter of philosophy, and Sarajevo a matter of geography". This saying explains the feelings of fans about their history, existence and even reason why they support Željezničar and not FK Sarajevo. Famous Sarajevo derby, known across the Southeast Europe, is generally considered as one of few with the best atmosphere. But there is one thing that separates it from similar ones in the region and rest of the world – fans of these clubs are enemies only for the time needed for game to be played. It is not rare that father and son, two brothers, or husband and wife, are on the opposite sides. They don't speak to each other that day. But when the game ends, provocations are something of a tradition, strangest bets are needed to be fulfilled. And everybody is waiting for the next one. Although, incidents between younger fans can be seen in recent years.
So far 106 league matches were played. Željezničar won 31 times, Sarajevo won 31 times, while 43 matches ended with a draw. Goal difference is 123–120 in FK Sarajevo's favour.In all competition Željezničar and Sarajevo play 126 times,Sarajevo won 39 times, Željezničar won 39 times and 47 games end in draw.
Željezničar-Borac Banja Luka rivalry
Also another notable rivalry started to shape in recent years. Since the season 2008–09, the time when Borac started to be standard in the Premier League once again, a great rivalry started to develop between the two teams. Starting from 2009–10 season the two teams mainly competed against each other for one of the title (the league title or national cup) and even the attendance almost got on pair with the Sarajevo derby. The rivalry also has a root in the fact that Sarajevo and Banja Luka are, by a good margin, the two biggest cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the first being also the capital of the whole country while the second takes the role as the de facto capital of Republika Srpska entity. Since independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina the teams met each other 22 times (6 of which are in national cup), although they played the first time against each other in 1947 Yugoslav Cup. In those 22 matches, Željezničar won 12 times, while Borac managed to win 7 times, with 3 matches ending in a draw. The goal difference is 31:19 in favor of Željezničar (Not including results from 2015–16 season).
First team squad
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Players with Dual Nationality
Out on loan
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Player of the Year
Idol Nacije is an annual event / award ceremony given to the best Bosnian football player of the year as well as awarding of other best players in other categories. Past winners from FK Željezničar at the time of playing for the football club from Grbavica (First team squad players only):
Notable players & managerial history
Main article: List of FK Željezničar Sarajevo players
Main article: List of FK Željezničar Sarajevo managers
Main article: FK Željezničar seasons
Željezničar in Europe
Main article: FK Željezničar Sarajevo in European football
FK Željezničar Sarajevo has played more games in European competitions than any other football team from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
P = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; GF = Goals for; GA = Goals against; GD = Goals difference. Defunct competitions indicated in italics.
Best results in European competitions
UEFA team ranking 2015–16
Especially short competitions such as the Super Cup of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Intercontinental Cup (now defunct), FIFA Club World Cup or UEFA Super Cup are not generally considered to contribute towards a Double or Treble, but they contribute to the bigger tuples.