FC Slovan Liberec | Club | History
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Before 1958

The very first predecessor of the Liberec football club was the Reichenberger Fussballklub (RFK) which was founded in 1899 (renamed to RSK in 1904). Ten years later Czech sports groups such as Slovan, Austria, Merkur and Meteor were founded mostly in the Horní Růžodol district. Also an originally German club, Sparta Ober Rosenthal, started its operation right there too; in 1912, its name was changed to Rapid and in 1922 Rapid turned into Czech club. In 1919, the first Czech club – SK Liberec – was founded and until World War II both clubs played at most the I A class in the so-called Pelikán County.

On 27 February 1934, SK Liberec took on the new name of Slavia Liberec so that the Czech footballers could affirm their club’s Slavic character at a time when the Nazi regime in neighbouring Germany already presented a serious threat to the former Czechoslovakia as well as all of Europe. The rivalry that once existed in Liberec between Rapid and Slavia can be compared as a smaller version of the rivalry between Prague’s two most famous clubs, Sparta and Slavia.

In 1938 the Munich Agreement was signed, in which representatives of Great Britain, France, Italy and Germany forced Czechoslovakia to withdraw from their border area and surrender it to Germany: this also led to part of Czechoslovakia being occupied by Poland and Hungary. After Liberec was incorporated into the German Reich, Czech football in the city came to a alt for a full seven years.

At the end of World War II and with the liberation of Czechoslovakia in 1945, Liberec took on the character of a Czech city. The first post-war-game was played in Turnov on 10 June 1945 by Liberec’s football club Slavia. After that Slavia played the I A class and Rapid the II class. In 1949, the new club, Sokol Čechie Liberec XI, was founded and its name was later changed to Slavoj Liberec. It became the first Liberec club playing in the highest competition in 1953. Slavia got a new name, Sokol Zdar Liberec, then Obchodní Domy Liberec, ČSSZ Liberec and Tatran. The internationals Ladislav Přáda, Václav Ježek (an excellent coach later) and others played for them. Rapid became Kolora and they advanced to the highest competition in 1955. But both teams, Slavoj as well as Kolora (2 years later), played only one season in the 1st league. Slavoj merged with Tatran, Kolora with Lokomotiva, and these two merged teams played under the name of Jiskra.

Since 1958

In 1958, the decision was taken to close Jiskra and Slavoj clubs and merge the two into a single team that would have the potential to win a spot in the highest league. Athough this plan stirred up very negative reactions among footballers and fans alike and despite the fact that members of Slavoj originally declared that they rejected the plan, in the end they changed their minds. As a result, Slovan Liberec was formed on 12 July 1958. With this name, the football club affirmed the Czech character of the club as well as the region where it played. The very first competitor the newly created team faced was Spartak Praha Sokolovo, as the famous team Sparta Prague was called at the time. Slovan lost 0:3.

Despite all of its efforts, for a long time Slovan Liberec was unsuccessful in its flight for a place in the highest league. At certain stages of its history, it was even relegated to third league or the regional division. In 1970, Slovan managed to be promoted back to the second league, which at the time included five Bohemian, one Moravian and ten Slovak teams. Due to the vast distances, the footballers from Liberec even had to board planes to play against teams in Bardejov or Michalovce, located in the easternmost reaches of the country. In 1971, Slovan again failed in its attempt to be promoted to the first league. Following this were two relagations and promotions back to the second league which was divided into the Czech and Slovak national league.

After overcoming a financial crisis that the club found itself in following the 1989 ’’’Velvet Revolution’, Slovan Liberec finally got a chance to advance to the top league. On 6 January 1992, the new history of Slovan began, when the new young management got its chance at the general meeting and promised to advance to the first league. Following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, the six best teams in the second league were promoted to the newly created Czech premier league. Slovan finally did it – they advanced from fifth place.

In the first years in the league, Slovan finished mid-table. The first successes were two consecutive cup finals. In 1999, Slovan was defeated by Slavia Prague 0:1, and in 2000, Slovan won the Czech Football Cup by beating second-league Baník Ratíškovice 2:1. In the 2001/2002 season the club ascended up to the league throne, becoming the first Czech Republic Champion outside Prague. Since then, Slovan has ranked among the local football elite and has won two other League Championship titles (in 2006 and 2012) and reached the cup final two more times, losing to Sparta in shootout in 2008 and winning over Jablonec in shootout in 2015.

Slovan had been playing European Cups for 10 seasons in a row since the 2000/2001 season. But our players achieved the greatest success in the subsequent season. They got to the UEFA Cup quarterfinal, overtaking such teams as Celta Vigo, Real Mallorca and Olympique Lyon. They failed only against Borussia Dortmund. One year later, our players tried for the first time to break into the Champions League. But the strong AC Milan stood in their way. Our players went down 0-1 in Italy and won 2-1 at the U Nisy stadium. But the Milan team advanced and Slovan had to make do with the UEFA Cup. But they did not get into the spring part of the competition, going out in the 3rd round against Panathinaikos Athens. For the next three years Slovan played in the Intertoto Cup. In the 2004/2005 season they failed to win only in the finals against Schalke 04. In the 2006/2007 season FC Slovan Liberec tried to get to the Champions League but Spartak Moscow stood in their way. FC Slovan Liberec continued in the UEFA Cup, where the team eliminated Red Star Belgrade and got to the group stage and took fourth place. Last time Slovan participated in European competition in that decade was in the season 2009/2010, where they got unluckily eliminated in the playoffs of the UEFA Europa League by Dinamo Bucharest in a penalty shootout. After a two years pause Slovan appeared in UEFA competitions again. In the 2012/13 Champions League qualification we managed to overcome the team of Shakhter Karagandy but CFR Cluj in the next qualifying round as well as Dnipropetrovsk in the playoffs of Europa League were beyond our powers. In the subsequent season we got to the Round of 32 in the Europa League overtaking Skonto Riga, FC Zürich and Udinese Calcio in qualification rounds plus SC Freiburg and Estoril Praia in the group stage. The 2014-15 season saw FC Slovan compete in the same competition and they managed to eliminate MFK Košice, but the journey ended right after that when FC Astra Giurgiu proved more powerful.

Since the beginning of the 2014/15 season, Samuel Slovák took over the management of Slovan's A team. However, the team did not do well during the autumn part of the season, wintering in second to last place and entering the spring under the leadership of the new coaching duo Kotrba - Csaplár. Even this duo failed to restart the team in the first three spring games, and so it was back to David Vavruška. Under his leadership, Slovan finally started to pick up important points, secured the certainty of salvation in the 28th round and in the Cup, they fought their way through Třinec and Teplice to the final, where they defeated regional rival Jablonec in a penalty shootout when Bakoš equalised shortly before the end at 1:1 and goalkeeper Hroššo shone during the decisive penalty kicks. FC Slovan Liberec thus won the FAČR Cup for the second time in its history and again secured a place in the preliminary round of the Europa League.

After the arrival of coach Jindřich Trpišovský in the summer of 2015, in two consecutive seasons we managed to open the doors of the group stage of the Europa League, when our players first went through Hajduk Split in the last preliminary round and a year later through AEK Larnaca. In the regular season, they managed to fight until the last round in both seasons to qualify and complete Slovan Liberec's 100 games in European Cups. Especially the victory at Olympique Marseille on 1 October 2015, where Vladimír Coufal scored the only goal in the end, will remain unforgettable. The successful tenure of the coach with the white cap in Liberec ended after the autumn of 2017, when he headed to Slavia Prague.

This was followed by a six-month engagement of coach David Holoubek and a one-year tenure of Zsolt Hornyák, neither of whom managed to get our club back on the European scene. It was only Pavel Hoftych, who with the team in the 2019/20 season reached the final of the MOL Cup against Prague Sparta, which was refereed by Královec under Ještěd. Despite the failure in the final, which would have been a direct ticket to the EL group stage, we managed to get through to the preliminary rounds via the new league playoff match against Mladá Boleslav. In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect the sport in a nasty way, Liberec footballers finally secured a Europa League group after all, when in the one-match preliminary rounds they took on Riteriai in Lithuania, FCSB in Romania and Apoel in Cyprus, which Kamso Mara coolly finished with a converted penalty kick in the setup. The group matches against Belgium's Gent, Germany's Hoffenheim and Serbia's Crvena Zvezda yielded seven points.

In European Cups thus far, Slovan Liberec has been able to eliminate IFK Norrköping, Slovan Bratislava, Celta Vigo, Real Mallorca, Olympique Lyon, Dinamo Tbilisi, Ipswich Town, Shamrock Rovers, Racing Santander, FK ZTS Dubnica, Roda Kerkrade, FC Nantes, Beitar Jerusalem, CZ Belgrade, FC Vaduz, Shakhter Karagandy, Skonto Riga, FC Zurich, Udinese Calcio, SC Freiburg, Estoril Praia, MFK Košice, Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona FC, HNK Hajduk Split, FC Admira Wacker Mödling, AEK Larnaka FC, FK Riteriai, FCSB and Apoel FC.

Slovan’s best scorer in European cups (with 12 goals) as well as in the league (with 62 goals) to date is Jan Nezmar. Together with him, players who have particularly stood out in Liberec’s recent history include Ladislav Maier, Martin Hašek, Libor Janáček, Josef Lexa, Pavel Čapek, Roman Týce, Leandro Hernán Lazzaro Liuni (ARG), Martin Jiránek, Tomáš Janů, Jiří Štajner, Václav Koloušek, Jiří Štajner, Ivan Hodúr (SVK), Antonín Kinský, Petr Papoušek, Miroslav Holeňák, Jan Polák, Marek Čech, Tomáš Zápotočný, Filip Hološko (SVK), Andrej Kerić (CRO), Michal Breznaník (SVK), Theodor Gebre Selassie and Michael Rabušic.

Slovan in the league - ranking, coaches

Season Place Coaches
2020/2021 6th place Pavel Hoftych
2019/2020 5th place Pavel Hoftych
2018/2019 6th place Zsolt Hornyák
2017/2018 6th place Jindřich Trpišovský / David Holoubek
2016/2017 9th place Jindřich Trpišovský
2015/2016 3th place Jindřich Trpišovský
2014/2015 12th place Samuel Slovák / Jiří Kotrba, Josef Csaplár / David Vavruška
2013/2014 4th place Jaroslav Šilhavý / David Vavruška
2012/2013 3rd place Jaroslav Šilhavý
2011/2012 1st place Jaroslav Šilhavý
2010/2011 7th place Josef Petřík / Petr Rada
2009/2010 9th place Ladislav Škorpil / Josef Petřík
2008/2009 3rd place Ladislav Škorpil
2007/2008 6th place Michal Zach / Ladislav Škorpil
2006/2007 4th place Vítězslav Lavička
2005/2006 1st place Vítězslav Lavička
2004/2005 5th place Stanislav Griga
2003/2004 6th place Ladislav Škorpil, Josef Csaplár / Stanislav Griga
2002/2003 4th place Ladislav Škorpil, Josef Csaplár
2001/2002 1st place Ladislav Škorpil, Josef Csaplár
2000/2001 6th place Ladislav Škorpil
1999/2000 8th place Ladislav Škorpil
1998/1999 9th place Josef Petřík / Ladislav Škorpil
1997/1998 5th place Jiří Štol / Josef Petřík
1996/1997 5th place Jiří Štol
1995/1996 7th place Vlastimil Petržela / Jiří Štol
1994/1995 4th place Vlastimil Petržela
1993/1994 9th place Vlastimil Petržela

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