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NK Maribor

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NK Maribor.svg
Full name Nogometni klub Maribor
Nickname(s) Vijoličasti (The Purples)
Vijolice (The Violets)
Štajerski ponos (The pride of Styria)
Founded 12 December 1960; 57 years ago (1960-12-12)
Ground Ljudski vrt,
Capacity 12,702
President Drago Cotar
Head Coach Darko Milanič
League Slovenian PrvaLiga
2017–18 Slovenian PrvaLiga, 2nd
Website Club website
Current season

Nogometni klub Maribor (English: Maribor Football Club), commonly referred to as NK Maribor or simply Maribor, is a professional football club based in Maribor, Slovenia, that competes in the Slovenian PrvaLiga, the top tier of Slovenian football. Nicknamed "the Purples" (Vijoličasti), the club was founded on 12 December 1960. They are regarded as a symbol of Slovenian football, particularly in their home region of Styria in northeastern Slovenia.

Maribor have won a record 14 Slovenian PrvaLiga titles, 9 Slovenian Cups and 4 Slovenian Supercups. The club's most successful period was in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when they won seven successive league titles. Following the 2008–09 season, Maribor became the major force in Slovenian football for the second time, having won seven out of ten championships since then. Prior to Slovenia's independence in 1991, Maribor played in the Yugoslav football system, where the club, apart from winning the Yugoslav second division in 1967, had no major successes.

Maribor are one of only three Slovenian teams which participated in the country's highest division, Yugoslav First League, between the end of World War II in 1945 and the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991. The club is also one of only three football clubs in Slovenia who have never been relegated from the Slovenian top flight since the league's establishment in 1991.[1][2] In addition, they are the only Slovenian club to have participated in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League.

The club holds a long-standing rivalry with Olimpija from the capital Ljubljana, with whom they contest the Eternal derby (Večni derbi). Maribor also have a loyal and passionate fan base and has the highest average all-time attendance in Slovenia. Maribor's home ground is the Ljudski vrt stadium, which has a capacity of 12,702 seats. It was originally built in 1952 and later underwent a series of major reconstructions in the 1990s and 2000s.



Maribor football club was founded on 12 December 1960.[1] The board of the newly established club then organized the presidential elections and Dr. Srečko Koren was appointed as the first club president, while Andrija Pflander was appointed as the first head coach and Oto Blaznik as the first team captain. The club played their first match on 5 February 1961, when they defeated city rivals Kovinar 2–1 (0–0), with Stefan Tolič scoring both goals.[3] 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.[3] The team won the Slovenian Republic League (third tier of Yugoslav football) in their first season and therefore won the right to contest the qualifications for the Yugoslav Second League.[3] Andrija Pflander was the head coach of the team that won the Republic league. However, he had to step down from the position right before the start of the promotion play-off due to illness.[3] His successor was Vladimir Šimunić, the man who eventually guided the team to their promotion to the Yugoslav First League six years later.[3] Maribor won the first two rounds of the qualifying play-off and eventually defeated Croatian side Uljanik from Pula in the final qualifying phase with the score 2–1 on aggregate, therefore securing the right to play in the second Yugoslav division.[3]

Maribor playing against Rudar Trbovlje in 1961.

In 1961, the club received a new stadium named Ljudski vrt. On 2 September of that year football fans across Slovenia witnessed the birth of a new rivalry between Maribor and Olimpija Ljubljana.[4] 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 (Večni derbi). 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.[3]

Yugoslav top division[edit]

The club's first match in the Yugoslav top division was played in 1967 against Vardar in Skopje (1–1); Maras scored the only goal for Maribor.[3] The first top level home match was played on 27 August 1967 against Proleter Zrenjanin in front of 8,000 spectators and Maribor won with the score 3–0.[3] The goals were scored by Kranjc, Arnejčič and Binkovski.[3] During the same season, football fans across Slovenia witnessed the first ever match in the Yugoslav top flight involving two clubs from Slovenia, when Maribor hosted a match against their rivals Olimpija in front of 13,000 spectators (0–0).[5] Every match between the two clubs during this period would be sold out, with crowd attendance sometimes as high as 20,000.[4] The team finished their first season in Yugoslav top flight in 12th place.[3]

During their five years in the top division, Maribor played a total of 166 matches and achieved 40 wins, 57 draws and 69 defeats, with a goal difference of 166–270. Maribor's highest league position was in the 1969–70 season when the club finished in 10th place in an 18-club league.[3] The average league placement of the club in Yugoslav top flight was 13.8. The 1971–72 season was their last season in top division as the team finished last with 20 points.[6] Mladen Kranjc, 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, Dinamo Zagreb.[7]

In the next season, Maribor played in the second Yugoslav division and finished as the runners-up, which meant that they qualified for the Yugoslav first division promotion play-off.[6] In the first qualifying round against Montenegrin side Budućnost, Maribor won on penalties and qualified for the decisive round against Proleter.[6] The first leg was played in Maribor on 8 July 1973, and is acknowledged as one of the most historic matches in history of the club as it still holds the club's attendance record.[6] There were 20,000 spectators, 15,000 of whom were already present in the stands almost three hours before kick off, eventually helping Maribor win the game 3–1.[8] 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.[6] In the second leg match when the score was 1–0 for the home team, Maribor had scored an equaliser in the 23rd minute, but the goal was disallowed.[6] The later TV replay showed that the ball had actually crossed the goal line and that the goal should have stood.[6]

After the dramatic play-off against Proleter, the club entered a period of stagnation. During this period Maribor were again close to promotion to top division in the 1978–79 season when they finished in second place, six points behind Bosnian side Čelik.

Bribery scandal and aftermath[edit]

At the end of the 1980–81 season Maribor were celebrating as the club managed to avoid relegation, when the "Ball" (Žoga) bribery scandal emerged, and caused the club to be relegated from second tier to third by the decision of the Football Association of Yugoslavia disciplinary committee.[9][10] The club had a secret fund that was used for bribing officials and opponents. The fund was abolished in 1968 after the club was promoted to the first division, but was later established again in 1976.[9] Some club officials were keeping track of the bribery expenses in their black book, which was later confiscated by the authorities.[9] From the book it is clear that Maribor had bribed a total of 31 people.[citation needed] After the scandal and the subsequent relegation to third division, Maribor spent the following years bouncing between the second and third Yugoslav leagues until the independence of Slovenia in 1991.

In 1988 Maribor joined MŠD Branik organization, to form Maribor Branik.[11] 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.[12] The club always had close ties to MŠD Branik as NK Branik Maribor, 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.[11] In October that year Mladen Kranjc was involved in a tragic motorcycle accident in Dolnja Počehova.[7] Considered to be one of the best goalscorers in the history of the club, he died at the age of 43.[7][10]

After independence[edit]

Following the independence of Slovenia, Slovenia's best clubs joined the newly formed Slovenian League.[14] Maribor were one of the league's founding members, and are one of only three clubs, along with Gorica and Celje, who have never been relegated from the Slovenian top division. In the first couple of seasons, Maribor's rivals Olimpija 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.[14] Although Olimpija dominated the league, Maribor still managed to win the first edition of the Slovenian Cup in 1992.[14] The final match was played in Ljubljana at Bežigrad Stadium versus Olimpija. It ended in a goalless draw after regular time and was won by Maribor after a penalty shoot-out (4–3).[14] This was the first major success for Maribor.[14] During the next season the team had their European début, appearing in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. They played their first European match on 19 August 1992, when they hosted Ħamrun Spartans of Malta and won with the score 4–0.[14] Ante Šimundža scored the first historic goal of the match.[14] Olimpija went on to win the first four domestic championships, until their streak was interrupted by Gorica who won it in the 1995–96 season.[15] Maribor were runners-up in the 1991–92, 1992–93 and 1994–95 seasons, before finishing third in 1993–94 and then fourth in the 1995–96 season. During this period the club managed to win another Slovenian cup in 1993–94, defeating Mura from Murska Sobota in the final with 3–2 on aggregate.[14]

The 1996–97 season 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.[14] During this season average home attendance was 5,289 spectators, which is still a record in the Slovenian League.[16] The final match of the season was played on 1 June 1997, against Beltinci and attracted a crowd of 14,000,[17] which is also a record of the Slovenian top league.[18] In that season Maribor also won the 1996–97 Slovenian Cup, thus winning the domestic Double, a feat also repeated in the 1998–99 season. After their first title in 1996–97 Maribor went on to win six more titles, bringing their total number to seven consecutive titles by 2003. During this period the team also won three Slovenian cups and in the 1999–2000 season, the club, led by head coach Bojan Prašnikar, defeated Genk of Belgium (5–1, 0–3) and French side Lyon (1–0, 2–0) and qualify for the 1999–2000 UEFA Champions league.[19] Maribor were drawn into the group with Dynamo Kiev, Bayer Leverkusen, and Lazio.

Financial difficulties[edit]

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.[20] However, the club did not follow their rivals Olimpija and Mura on that path.[20]

Due to their large debts, which at one point amounted to 4 million euros, the club could not afford to buy new players. As a consequence, the first team at the time consisted mostly of youth players mixed with a couple of foreign players brought to the club on free transfers. In the autumn of 2006, the leadership of the club changed, with the debt still amounting to over 3 million euros, and it was not until January 2011 that the club announced that the debt had been paid in full.[21] 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 11 winners of the 2006 UEFA Intertoto Cup, in which they defeated Spanish side Villarreal in the final round, only a couple of months after Villareal had played in the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League.[22]


Maribor players celebrating their ninth league title (29 May 2011, after the last round vs Domžale).
Maribor players celebrating the club's ninth league title in 2011.

From the 2007–08 season onwards, former Slovenian internationals Zlatko Zahovič as the sport director, and soon afterwards, Darko Milanič as the head coach, were appointed to head the club's sports department.[23] On 10 May 2008, the club re-opened the renovated Ljudski vrt, which had undergone a major reconstruction that lasted almost 20 months.[24] The first match played in the newly refurbished stadium was a league match against Nafta and was won 3–1 in front of 12,435 spectators.[24] At the start of 2008–09 season, Maribor entered history books as the first club who won 1,000 points in the Slovenian top division, after a 2–1 away win against Rudar Velenje on 26 July 2008.[25] Under the guidance of head coach Darko Milanič, Maribor won all three domestic trophies available to them (the Slovenian League, Cup, and Supercup) in only two seasons with the club, thus becoming the first coach with all three domestic trophies won in Slovenian football.[26] On 12 December 2010, the club celebrated its 50th anniversary.[27][28][29] With the 2–1 away victory over Primorje, on 21 May 2011, Maribor secured its ninth Slovenian league title.[30] Four days later the team played the Slovenian cup final at Stožice stadium and lost to Domžale 4–3.[31]

At the beginning of the 2011–12 season, Maribor played in the 2011 Slovenian Supercup against Domžale on 8 July 2012 and lost with the score 2–1 after regulation.[32] 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.[32] In August 2011, Maribor defeated Rangers and qualified for the group stages of the 2011–12 UEFA Europa League.[33][34] Maribor managed to get one point in six matches, holding Braga to a draw at the home turf.[35] In the same season, Maribor won their tenth league title with a record number of points (85). The league title was confirmed in the game against Triglav Kranj on 22 April 2012 with an 8–0 win.[36] Furthermore, they won the Slovenian domestic cup on 23 May 2012 by defeating their Styrian rivals Celje after penalties, securing their seventh cup title.[37] This was the third time that Maribor managed to win The Double and the first time since the 1998–99 season.

Maribor against Chelsea on 21 October 2014
Maribor and Chelsea players before the Champions League match in October 2014

At the beginning of the 2012–13 season, Maribor played in their fourth successive Supercup final. The match was played on 8 July 2012 at Ljudski vrt stadium. Unlike in the previous two seasons, when the club finished as the runners-up, they managed to win their second Supercup trophy this time, defeating their "eternal rivals" Olimpija Ljubljana 2–1.[38] Maribor qualified to the group stages of the 2012–13 UEFA Europa League for the second season in a row as one of the losers in the play-off round of the 2012–13 UEFA Champions League, where they were eliminated by Dinamo Zagreb.[39][40] They managed to get four points this time,[41] defeating Panathinaikos[42] and drawing with Tottenham Hotspur,[43] both at home. Maribor confirmed their eleventh league title on 11 May 2013, when they defeated Olimpija Ljubljana 2–1.[44] Like in the previous season, they again defeated Celje in the 2013 Slovenian Cup Final, securing their fourth "Double" in the history.[45]

In the 2013–14 season, Maribor qualified to the group stages of the Europa League for the third consecutive year after losing to Viktoria Plzeň in the Champions League play-off stage.[46] This time, the team earned seven points and progressed through the group stages for the first time after defeating Wigan Athletic 2–1 in the final matchday.[47][48] In the Round of 32, they were eliminated by the future competition winner Sevilla with an aggregate score of 4–3.[49] In the next season, Maribor qualified for the UEFA Champions League group stages for the second time in their history after eliminating Scottish club Celtic with an aggregate score of 2–1 in the play-offs.[50] They were drawn into the Group G alongside Chelsea, Schalke 04, and Sporting CP,[51][52] where they managed to obtain three points in six games after a draw and a defeat against each team.[53]

In the 2015–16 season, Maribor was eliminated from the European competitions after just two matches, being defeated by Astana in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League, meaning the club failed to advance to the third qualifying round of the competition for the first time after the 2003–04 season.[54][55] In the same season, Maribor failed to win the domestic title for the first time since 2009–10 after finishing in the second place behind Olimpija Ljubljana.[56]

Maribor has won its 14th domestic title during the 2016–17 season.[57] As the national champions, Maribor represented Slovenia in the 2017–18 UEFA Champions League, where the club reached the group stages for the third time in their history, having previously appeared in the same stage of the competition in 1999 and 2014.[58] Maribor competed in Group E, along with Spartak Moscow, Sevilla, and Liverpool. The club obtained three points in six matches after drawing with Sevilla at home and against Spartak twice with all three matches finishing 1–1.[59] Their 7–0 defeat to Liverpool in the third matchday was the club's heaviest home defeat in European competitions, and their second highest European defeat overall.[60] During the same season, however, Maribor failed to win a major trophy for the first time since the 2007–08 season, losing the league title to Olimpija on head-to-head rules after finishing with the same number of points.[61][62] Olimpija also eliminated Maribor in the quarter-finals of the national cup, and therefore Maribor failed to reach the semi-finals of the competition for the first time since the 2002–03 season.[63]

Colours and crest[edit]

Throughout the entire history of Maribor the club's main colour was purple.[64] The team is nicknamed The Purples (Vijoličasti);[65][66] another common nickname is The Violets (Vijolice),[67][68] both referring to their primary colour purple, present on players' jerseys and in the club crest. The club is also referred to as The Viole, predominantly in the region of the former Yugoslavia.[69][70]

Kit evolution[edit]

When Maribor was established, some of the club officials were in favour of red and white colours, while the traditional colours of Branik were black and white. Because of the fact that many football teams in Yugoslavia wore red and white or black and white jerseys, most notably Red Star Belgrade and Partizan, Maribor officials decided for a new and fresh combination.[71] They decided to follow the example of Fiorentina, which at the time was one of the most successful clubs in Europe, and their purple and white combination.[64] Oto Blaznik, the first captain in history of the club, was the one who proposed the combination after seeing the Italian side at the front page of the La Gazzetta dello Sport.[71][64] Eventually, they changed the secondary colour to yellow.[64] In July 2015, white replaced yellow as the secondary colour. Today, Maribor play their home matches in purple and away matches in white kits.[72] Since July 2011, the club's kit manufacturer is Adidas.[73]

Crest evolution[edit]

The current crest of the club is based on the official emblem of the city of Maribor, which is in turn based on a 14th-century seal with minor differences.[74] The badge is formed in a shape of a shield, and shows the former Piramida Castle that used to stand on top of the Pyramid Hill before it was demolished at the end of the 18th century. A violet 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.[64] At the top of the shield the name of the club and the year of its foundation is inscribed. The entire badge uses only two colours, purple and yellow.[64] Previous versions of the crest included the colour white, one of the traditional colours of the club, in the form of a white castle in the centre and a white ball that was on top of the shield.[64] Since May 2012 the official badge includes a yellow star above the crest, which indicates the first ten domestic titles won by the club.[75]


Ljudski vrt stadium with Mount Pohorje in the background.
Ljudski vrt

The Ljudski vrt (English: People's Garden, German: Volksgarten) stadium is the only stadium in Maribor that lies on the left bank of the river Drava. The stadium is a natural, cultural, architectural and sports landmark of the city.[76][77] The stadium is named after a public park previously located in the area.[76] A cemetery was also located on the same area before the stadium was built.[78][79] The stadium was opened in 1952 and underwent a major reconstruction in the early 1960s.[76] The club first started to compete in the Ljudski vrt in 1961, when the current main stand was still under construction.[76] The stand is notable for its 129.8 metres long and 18.4 m high concrete arch and is still the main stand of the stadium.[76] In 1994 floodlights were installed and the stadium hosted its first evening match.[76] Since then the stadium went through several renovations.[80] The most notable was the one in 2008 when the stadium was completely refurbished. Presently, it has a capacity of 12,702 seats.[81][82]

Beside being the home ground of Maribor, the stadium also hosts matches of the Slovenia national football team and was their main venue used for the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches. It was one of two stadiums in the country which hosted the national team in UEFA Euro 2012, 2014 FIFA World Cup, and UEFA Euro 2016 qualifiers.[83][84][85] The record attendance in the Yugoslav era was 20,000 spectators, while the record for a Slovenian League match is 14,000 spectators, achieved in the last match of the 1996–97 season.[8][17]


A black and white photograph of a terrace, on a rainy day, full of football fans with umbrellas.
Maribor supporters in 1961

Since their inception in 1960, Maribor have developed a loyal, passionate and dedicated fanbase. After Slovenia declared independence in 1991, most of the town's industry perished and over 25% of the population was unemployed.[86] Still, the people remained loyal to the club. Besides the city of Maribor and the surrounding area, the club also has a large fan base in the regions of Styria and Carinthia. A small number of supporters are also present in Ilirska Bistrica in the Slovenian Littoral.[87] Soon after the foundation of Maribor, the club was branded as the citizens club, while their city rivals Železničar Maribor has always been branded as the club of the working class.[88] This was mainly because Maribor was seen, by the fans, as the successor of Branik Maribor, a club that folded in 1960. Many fans of Branik then started to cheer for Maribor, a club that was founded only couple of months later.[89]

Since the establishment of the Slovenian league, PrvaLiga, Maribor had the highest average attendance in 21 out of 27 seasons.[18] The highest attendance was in the 1996–97 season, when on average 5,289 people attended Maribor's matches, which is still a record in Slovenian club football.[16] The highest attendance in a Slovenian league match was on 1 June 1997, when Maribor played against Beltinci (14,000).[17] In addition, they are the first club that gathered over one million people to their matches in Slovenian league since its foundation in 1991.[18]

Hundred of fans, wearing purple, celebrating with purple smoke from flares in the background.
Maribor supporters, in 2011, celebrating the club's ninth Slovenian league title.

The club has an ultras group called Viole Maribor, established in 1989, which is, by numbers and organization, considered the biggest in Slovenia.[90][additional citation(s) needed] An apolitical group,[91][92][93][94] the core of Viole consists of around 250 members, while the whole group has around 1,000 registered members.[94] They are located on the southern stand of the stadium which has a capacity of just over 2,000. The most Maribor fans gathered on an away match in domestic competitions was in 2001, when 3,000 fans gathered in Ljubljana,[95] while the most fans gathered on an away match abroad was in 2017 during the club's UEFA Champions League campaign, when over 2,400 supporters gathered in Liverpool.[96][97] Their biggest rivals are the Green Dragons of Olimpija Ljubljana.[87] Since 2006, another fan group emerged to support Maribor at their matches. The group is called ESS (East Side Supporters) and consists mostly of former members of Viole Maribor, now season tickets holders.[98] They are, as the name implies, located at the east stand of the stadium.

Famous fans

Famous, non-football related, supporters of NK Maribor are listed on this list alphabetically.


Eternal derby[edit]

Maribor's biggest rivalry was with Olimpija Ljubljana, against whom they contested the Eternal derby (Večni derbi). Olimpija folded and was dissolved in 2005.[123] Today, the continuation of the rivalry is considered as the matches between Maribor and the new Olimpija Ljubljana, established in 2005 as NK Bežigrad.[124] The rivalry traced its roots back to the early 1960s, when the first match between the two clubs was played.[125] 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.[18] Traditionally, Ljubljana represents the wealthier western part of the country, while Maribor is the center of the poorer eastern part.[126] 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.[127] Maribor, on the other hand, was one of the most industrialized cities in Yugoslavia,[128] and the majority of its fans were the representatives of the working class, which means that the rivalry usually had political, social, and cultural tensions as well.

The old rivalry reached its peak in the final round of the 2000–01 season, when one of the most celebrated matches in Slovenian League history was played. Olimpija met Maribor at their home stadium, Bežigrad,[129] and both teams were competing for their fifth Slovenian League 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) and Maribor started to celebrate their fifth consecutive title in front of 3,000 of their fans that gathered in Ljubljana that day.[130][95]

An additional intensity to the rivalry is the fact that both Maribor and Olimpija always had support on their matches from ultras groups, called Viole Maribor[90] (supporting Maribor), and the Green Dragons, who support Olimpija.[131] 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.[132] 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.[133] 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.[134][135] 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 such as RTV Slovenija and Večer.[136][137][138][139] 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.[18][140] The first match between Maribor and the new Olimpija took place on 24 October 2007 in a Slovenian cup quarter-final match that was won by Maribor, 3–1.[137][141] At the time, Olimpija was still competing under the name Olimpija Bežigrad.[141] Statistically, Maribor is the more successful club either in the case of matches from the period from 1962 to 2005 or the whole period from 1962 to present day.[4][125]

Prekmurje–Styria derby[edit]

Maribor playing at home against Mura 05 during the 2011–12 season
Maribor playing against Mura 05 in 2012.

The other rivalry of the club was that against Mura from Murska Sobota. Similar to Olimpija, Mura also folded and was dissolved in 2005[123] and today the continuation of the rivalry is considered as the matches between Maribor and NŠ Mura, established in 2012, who consider themselves, together with the fans of the old Mura, as the spiritual continuation of the dissolved club.[142][143] 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.[144] Before the establishment of the 1. SNL 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.[126] Prekmurje was, for about a thousand years, part of the Kingdom of Hungary, unlike other Slovene Lands.[145] It therefore maintains certain specific linguistic, cultural and religious features that differentiate it from other traditional Slovenian regions.[145] The Mura river, which runs on the border between Styria (Štajerska), the capital of which is Maribor,[146] and Prekmurje was therefore not just a natural barrier, but political as well.[145] During the 1990s and early 2000s the two clubs were the most successful and popular teams in the eastern part of the country.[18] The rivalry reached its peak in 2003–04 season when Mura hosted Maribor at home in the final round of the season. Before the match Maribor was leading the table and was close in winning their eighth consecutive title while the mid table position of Mura was predetermined before the final round. However, Mura won the match 2–1[147] and Maribor eventually finished the season on third place, losing the title by two points.[148]

Mura also has support during their matches from their ultras group, named the Black Gringos.[149] 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.[18] The fact that Prekmurje is one of the smallest and least populated regions in Slovenia has made Mura's fans labeled, by the general public, as one of the most loyal in the country.[150][151] 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.[144]


Maribor's tally of 14 Slovenian Championships[152] and the total of nine Slovenian Cup titles[153] is the highest in Slovenian football. Maribor holds the record for most consecutive league titles (7), ahead of Olimpija (4) and Gorica (3).[154] They are also the only team in the country that has achieved the Slovenian Championship and the Slovenian Cup doubles on more than one occasion (4). In addition, they are the only club which has won the Slovenian version of the treble, having won the league, cup and supercup during the 2012–13 season.[155] On their official website, UEFA states that Maribor has won one international cup, as Maribor was one of the winners of the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2006.[22] However, the trophy itself was awarded to Newcastle United, the team that advanced farthest in the UEFA competitions that season.[156] Maribor have the best top-flight record in history, having finished below fourth place only once.[157] 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 Rudar Velenje on 26 July 2008.[25]


1960–61, 1975–76, 1981–82, 1983–84, 1985–86
1961, 1966, 1967, 1972–73, 1973–74, 1976–77, 1978–79, 1980–81, 1982–83, 1984–85, 1985–86, 1987–88, 1988–89


1996–97, 1997–98, 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2011–12, 2012–13, 2013–14, 2014–15, 2016–17
1991–92, 1993–94, 1996–97, 1998–99, 2003–04, 2009–10, 2011–12, 2012–13, 2015–16
2009, 2012, 2013, 2014
  • MNZ Maribor Cup: 1


2006 (joint winners)


1996–97, 1998–99, 2011–12, 2012–13

Youth Academy[edit]

Maribor's Academy is responsible for youth development at the club, with the goal of developing young players for the future. The academy is composed of eleven youth selections, ranging from U7 to U19. Totally, there are over 210 youth players in the system who are trained by professional staff within the club.[158] 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.[158] The club has also spread the football school activities to primary schools in the city of Maribor and the surrounding area, where around 500 of the youngest footballers train as part of the Children's Football School.[19][159]

Since the establishment of Maribor's youth system in its present form in 1990, the academy has been the most successful in the country.[158] Under-19 team holds the record for the most titles in the country, having won seven times.[160] The same team has also won four Youth Cups.[161] Other teams are equally successful as both the under-17 and under-15 teams holds the record for the most titles in their category.[162][163] 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 became the first in the country that were able to achieve league victories in the four highest youth levels (U19, U17, U15, and U13) during the course of one season.[158] In 2012, a record eight Maribor players were called to the Slovenia national under-17 football team for the 2012 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship.[164][165]


Current squad[edit]

As of 14 September 2018[166]

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

No. Position Player
1 Slovenia GK Aljaž Cotman
2 Slovenia DF Denis Klinar
4 Slovenia DF Marko Šuler
5 Slovenia MF Blaž Vrhovec
6 Slovenia MF Aleks Pihler
8 Romania MF Alexandru Crețu
9 Brazil FW Marcos Tavares (captain)
10 Slovenia MF Dino Hotić
11 Slovenia FW Luka Zahović
12 Slovenia MF Dare Vršič
13 Bosnia and Herzegovina GK Kenan Pirić
14 Nigeria FW Sunny Omoregie
15 Mali DF Kassim Doumbia
17 Slovenia FW Luka Štor
20 Slovenia FW Gregor Bajde
No. Position Player
21 Slovenia MF Amir Dervišević
22 Slovenia DF Martin Milec
23 Slovenia DF Žan Kolmanič
26 Slovenia DF Aleksander Rajčević
27 Bosnia and Herzegovina FW Jasmin Mešanović
28 Slovenia DF Mitja Viler
29 Slovenia FW Jan Mlakar
31 Serbia DF Saša Ivković
32 Montenegro DF Luka Uskoković
33 Slovenia GK Jasmin Handanović
44 Slovenia DF Denis Šme
96 Brazil MF Felipe Santos
97 Slovenia FW Martin Kramarič
98 Bosnia and Herzegovina FW Nardin Mulahusejnović

Players on loan[edit]

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

No. Position Player
Slovenia MF Sandi Ogrinec (on loan to Krško until 31 December 2018)
No. Position Player
Bosnia and Herzegovina FW Adnan Ahmetović (on loan to Krško until 31 December 2018)

Retired numbers[edit]

19 – Croatia Stipe Balajić, defender and midfielder (1998–2005)

Number 19 is the only retired number 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.[167] In his last couple of seasons he was also team captain.[167] Balajić earned a total of 230 official appearances for the club, scoring 37 goals in the process.[168] He played his last match with the club on 7 July 2005, in a friendly match against his former club Hajduk Split.[167] He started the match and was then substituted after 19 minutes of play in a symbolic gesture.[167]

Purple warrior[edit]

An Afro-Brazilian man in a white-purple football kit.
Marcos Tavares, six-time winner of the award

The Purple warrior (Vijoličasti bojevnik or Vijol'čni bojevnik) is a trophy awarded to the most distinguished player in the past year.[169] The winner of the trophy is decided by a vote on the official website of the club, where everybody can participate. The voting starts at the end of the year and is usually finished in a month. To be eligible to participate in a poll, a player must appear for the club in at least 10 official matches.[169] The voting was first introduced at the end of 2007–08 season, with Czech defender Lubomir Kubica selected as the first ever trophy winner. Defender Elvedin Džinić was the first domestic player that won the award.[170] Between 2007 and 2011 the voting was conducted during the summer and awarded to the best player of the past season, however, the trophy for the season 2011–12 was not awarded. Instead, the club had decided to prolong the voting and award the trophy to the most distinguished player of the past full year (from January until December). Marcos Tavares has won the award six times between 2010 and 2017.[169]

Season Name Nationality Position
2007–08 Lubomir Kubica  Czech Republic Defender
2008–09 Dejan Mezga  Croatia Midfielder
2009–10 Elvedin Džinić  Slovenia Defender
2010–11 Marcos Tavares  Brazil Forward
2012 Marcos Tavares (2)  Brazil Forward
2013 Marcos Tavares (3)  Brazil Forward
2014 Marcos Tavares (4)  Brazil Forward
2015 Marcos Tavares (5)  Brazil Forward
2016 Jasmin Handanović  Slovenia Goalkeeper
2017 Marcos Tavares (6)  Brazil Forward



As of 5 February 2018[1][166]

Name Role
Drago Cotar Chairman
Bojan Ban Director
Zlatko Zahovič Director of football
Uroš Jurišič Secretary
Stipe Jerič Public relations
Željko Latin Public relations

Technical staff[edit]

As of 5 February 2018[166][158]

Name Role
Darko Milanič Head coach
Saša Gajser Assistant coach
Marko Borko Fitness coach
Mitja Pirih Goalkeeping coach
Zlatko Milišič Physiotherapist
Mirzet Sprečo Physiotherapist
Matjaž Vogrin Club doctor
Robert Knuplež Equipment manager
Marijan Bloudek Youth academy manager

Notable managers[edit]

This is a list of managers who have won one or more titles at the club[171][172]

A white man in all-black suit, watching the football game and giving orders to the players.
Darko Milanič is Maribor's most successful manager
Name Years Slovenian League Slovenian Cup
Bosnia and Herzegovina Marin Bloudek 1989–1993
Slovenia Branko Horjak 1993–1994
Slovenia Bojan Prašnikar 1996–2000
Slovenia Matjaž Kek 2000
Croatia Ivo Šušak 2000–2001 2000–01
Slovenia Darko Milanič 2008–2013
Slovenia Ante Šimundža 2013–2015 2013–14


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