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Levski Sofia
PFC Levski Sofia Logo.svg
Full name PFC Lefski Sofia
Nickname(s) Blue Avalanche , Blue
Founded 24 May 1914
Ground Georgi Asparuhov Stadium, Sofia
(Capacity: 29,200)
Chairman Bulgaria Todor Batkov
Manager Bulgaria Georgi Ivanov
League TBI A Football Group
2008-09 TBI A Football Group, 1st
Home colours
Away colours

PFC Levski Sofia, (Bulgarian: ПФК Левски София) also known simply as Levski, is a Bulgarian football club founded in 1914 and based in the capital Sofia. So far, Levski has won 26 League titles and 27 National cups. Levski is the only club from Bulgaria's top division which has not been relegated since the inception of this tournament; it also has a positive balance against all teams in all national competitions. Internationally, Levski has reached three Cup Winners' Cup quarter-finals and two UEFA Cup quarter-finals. In 2006, it became the first Bulgarian club to make the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. Levski is one of only two Bulgarian members of the European Club Association[1].

Contents

History

[2] Sport Club Levski from Sofia 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, the date now celebrated as its birthday. The club's name was chosen in honor of the Apostle of Bulgarian freedom Vasil Levski.

First kit /1914-20/

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.

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 back 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 became 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 Lisbon in the European Cup in 1965 remained memorable for the Eusebio versus Georgi Asparuhov clash, and the recognition that the Portuguese great gave to his Bulgarian counterpart.

Following the new wave of political reform in the Eastern Block after the Prague Spring, in 1969 and against the wishes of the majority of its supporters, 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's youth academy received the full credit of the whole Bulgarian football community by sending during the 1980s into the national team the new stars of The Blues: Petar Kurdov, Emil Spasov, Mihail Valchev, Emil Velev, Nasko Sirakov, Nikolay Iliev, Borislav Mikhailov and Bozhidar Iskrenov, who won the domestic championship in 1984 (an unprecedented domestic treble), 1985 and 1988. The back to back triumphs over VfB Stuttgart in 1983 and 1984, along with the quarterfinal appearance in the Cup Winners Cup in 1988, were especially celebrated by Levski's supporters.

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.

The suspensions were lifted shortly after, but regardless of the universal refusal of supporters to recognize and chant the new name of the team, it wasn't until 1989 and the Fall of the Berlin Wall that the club officially abolished the artificially imposed and hated title Vitosha and returned to being simply Levski. The normalization of sport activities in the country and the removal of the political influences on the football community were especially favorable to the results of The Blues. 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 Bulgarian national team that ended on fourth place in the unforgettable American summer of the World Cup 1994.

Financial distress and the increasing interest of the Bulgarian mafia into the game troubled Levski in the following few years. Players like Marian Hristov and Doncho Donev did well for the club, but failed to win the domestic title or record success Aleksandar Aleksandrov and Georgi Ivanov won the title in 2000, 2001 and 2002. The club once again became a force to be reckoned with in Europe, and had memorable clashes with Hajduk Split, Juventus, Galatasaray, Dynamo Kyiv, Slavia Prague and Liverpool[3].

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, winning against Olympique de Marseille 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 Chelsea 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, thus becoming the first Bulgarian club to ever reach the group stage of the UEFA Champions League[4]. There they faced last year's winners FC Barcelona from Spain, English champions Chelsea F.C. and German powerhouse Werder Bremen[5].

In 2007-2008 Champions League Qualifiers, Levski faced Finnish champion Tampere United. United won both matches 1-0 and Levski was eliminated from the tournament.

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[6]. Levski lost to FC BATE of Belarus in the third qualifying round.

During 2009/2010 season, the 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 loses. Levski took the win against SS Lazio, after Hristo Yovov scored the winning goal in the match. The match was played at Stadio Olimpico.

In September 2009, Levski were involved in a bizarre incident, which captured European headlines. The club received a fax, supposedly from the Russian champions FC Rubin Kazan, offering to buy four of their players (Zhivko Milanov, Youssef Rabeh, Darko Tasevski and Ze Soares). On 20 September 2009, the players travelled to Moscow for a physical in a local clinic, all four missing the Eternal derby league game against PFC CSKA Sofia, which Levski subsequently lost 0:2. The negotiator from the Russian side offered players much lower salaries than originally indicated and the players and club representatives returned to Bulgaria. It turned out that FC Rubin never targeted the players and Levski fell victims of imposters. The phone number listed on the fax turned out to be a cell phone number that had nothing to do with Rubin. It is speculated that the incident was masterminded to defraud bookmakers by placing large bets against Levski in their game against CSKA Sofia. Levski president, attorney Todor Batkov, stated that he had brought the matter to the attention of FIFA and Interpol. [7][8][9]

Stadium

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 the outskirts of the city, and a decade later the stadium named “Levski” was finally completed. It provided for 10,000 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 would move to the “Dinamo” ground, which was located at the site of the modern Spartak swimming complex. In 1961 after districting the team moved to “Poduyane” 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 as an all-seater for 29,280 spectators. The field measures 120x90 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.

Honors and records

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Domestic competitions

Bulgarian A Professional Football Group

Bulgarian Cup

  • Winners (27 times): 1933, 1942, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1967, 1970, 1971, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007

Bulgarian Supercup

Cup of the soviet army

  • Winners (3 times): 1984, 1987, 1988.

Ulpia Serdika Cup

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

Sofia Cup

  • Winners (11 times): 1923, 1924, 1925, 1929, 1933, 1937, 1942, 1943, 1945, 1946, 1948
  • Levski have completed a domestic double 11 times (in 1942, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1970, 1977, 1979, 1994, 2000, and 2002) and a treble twice (in 1984 and 2007).

International competitions

UEFA Cup:

UEFA Cup Winners' Cup

UEFA European Cup/Champions League

Current squad

First team

As of February 21, 2010[10] Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 Bulgaria GK Georgi Petkov (captain)
2 Bulgaria DF Victor Genev
4 Bulgaria DF Stefan Stanchev
6 Ghana MF Michael Tawiah
7 Bulgaria MF Aleksandar Aleksandrov
8 Bulgaria MF Georgi Sarmov
10 Bulgaria MF Hristo Yovov
11 Bulgaria DF Elin Topuzakov
12 Bulgaria GK Bozhidar Mitrev
14 Bulgaria DF Veselin Minev
15 Morocco DF Chakib Benzoukane
16 Bulgaria MF Marian Ognyanov
No. Position Player
9 Bulgaria FW Miroslav Antonov
20 Brazil MF Joãozinho
21 Slovakia DF Peter Petráš
22 Republic of Macedonia MF Darko Tasevski
24 Bulgaria FW Nikolay Dimitrov
27 France MF Cédric Bardon
30 Bulgaria MF Lachezar Baltanov
31 Bulgaria GK Tzvetan Dimitrov
32 Bulgaria MF Dimitar Telkiyski
45 Bulgaria MF Vladimir Gadzhev
55 Bulgaria DF Yordan Miliev
77 Bulgaria FW Enyo Krastovchev

For recent transfers, see List of Bulgarian football transfers winter 2010.

Reserves

The following players are registered with the Europa League and are listed by club's website as reserve players. They are eligible to play for the first team. Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
6 Bulgaria MF Georgi Angelov
19 Bulgaria FW Ivan Tsachev
34 Bulgaria DF Ivan Stoyanov
35 Bulgaria FW Valentin Milenov
36 Bulgaria FW Daniel Shmedin
37 Bulgaria DF Zhivko Atanasov
38 Bulgaria MF Kostadin Adzhov
39 Bulgaria FW Ronald Donev
40 Bulgaria FW Vladislav Stoykov
No. Position Player
41 Bulgaria GK Petar Hubchev
42 Bulgaria FW Denis Nikolov
49 Bulgaria MF Pavel Petkov
51 Bulgaria GK Aleksandar Dimchev
52 Bulgaria MF Andreas Vasev
61 Bulgaria GK Ivaylo Vasilev
70 Serbia MF Saša Simonović
- Romania FW Denis Levent

Players out on loan

As of February 21, 2010 Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
4 Bulgaria MF Georgi Chakarov (on loan to Chernomorets)
6 Morocco MF Rachid Tiberkanine (on loan to Dubai Club)
9 Bulgaria FW Georgi Hristov (on loan to Wisła Kraków)
17 Bulgaria MF Georgi Nedyalkov (on loan to Sportist)
23 Czech Republic DF David Bystroň (on loan to FC Viktoria Plzeň)
26 Bulgaria DF Martin Dimov (on loan to Sportist)
No. Position Player
28 Bulgaria FW Aleksandar Kirov (on loan to PFC Montana)
29 Bulgaria FW Ismail Isa (on loan to Loko Mezdra)
34 Bulgaria DF Dimitar Dimitrov (loaned to Spartak Plovdiv)
44 Bulgaria MF Borislav Baldzhiyski (on loan to Loko Mezdra)
43 Bulgaria FW Boyan Tabakov (on loan to Loko Mezdra)
 

Technical staff

Name Role
Bulgaria Georgi Ivanov Coach
Bulgaria Vladko Shalamanov Assistant Coach
Bulgaria Ruslan Mihaylov Goalkeeping Coach
Bulgaria Yasen Ekimov Fitness Coach
Bulgaria Georgi Ivanov Manager / Head of the sport technical issues in Levski
Bulgaria Konstantin Bazdhekov Manager / Head of financial issues in Levski
Bulgaria Kiril Ivkov, Biser Hazday Academy Technical Manager
Bulgaria Aleksandar Kostov, Georgi Tzvetkov Scouts
Bulgaria Tatyana Yancheva Psychologist
Bulgaria Jan Filipov Doctor

Player records

Most appearances for Levski

As of match played 07 March 2010.

# Name Career Appearances Goals
1 Bulgaria Stefan Aladzhov 1967 - 1981 483 4
2 Bulgaria Emil Spasov 1974 - 1990 415 111
3 Bulgaria Pavel Panov 1969 - 1981 383 177
4 Bulgaria Kiril Ivkov 1967 - 1978 375 15
5 Bulgaria Elin Topuzakov 1996 - 2008
2009 -
335 23
6 Bulgaria Aleksandar Kostov 1956 - 1971 344 85
7 Bulgaria Hristo Iliev 1954 - 1968 326 132
8 Bulgaria Stefan Abadzhiev 1953 - 1968 299 45
9 Bulgaria Plamen Nikolov 1977 - 1992 296 6
10 Bulgaria Voyn Voynov 1971 - 1981 295 50

Most goals scored for Levski

# Name Career Appearances Goals Goals/Game
Ratio
1 Bulgaria Nasko Sirakov 1981 - 1994 258 206 0.80
2 Bulgaria Pavel Panov 1969 - 1981 383 177 0.46
3 Bulgaria Georgi Asparuhov 1959 - 1971 238 153 0.64
4 Bulgaria Georgi Ivanov 1997 - 2009 204 122 0.60
6 Bulgaria Emil Spasov 1974 - 1990 415 111 0.27
7 Bulgaria Dimitar Yordanov 1956 - 1965 207 104 0.50
8 Bulgaria Mihail Valchev 1981 - 1987 169 102 0.60
9 Bulgaria Georgi Sokolov 1958 - 1969 237 83 0.35
10 Bulgaria Aleksandar Kostov 1955 - 1960
1961 - 1971
281 65 0.23

UEFA ranking

As of 17 Sep 2009

Notable managers

   

Selected former players

The following players included were either playing for their respective national teams or left good impression among the fans.

1960s

1970s

 

1980s

1990s

 

2000s

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

Bulgarian Footballer of the Year winners

References

External links


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