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Sparta Prague
Sparta Prague logo.svg
Full name AC Sparta Praha Fotbal, A.S.
Nickname(s) Železná Sparta
(Iron Sparta)
Founded November 16, 1893
Ground Generali Arena,
Prague
(Capacity: 20,854)
Chairman Jozef Chovanec
Manager Jozef Chovanec
League Gambrinus liga
2008-09 Gambrinus liga, 2nd
Home colours
Away colours
Third colours

AC Sparta Prague (Czech: AC Sparta Praha) is a top Czech football club.

It is the most successful club in the Czech Republic. Sparta was long the main source for the Czech Republic national football team, however lately this has ceased to be the case, as the best Czech players almost all now play in higher-paying foreign leagues. There are a number of outstanding players who have played for the Sparta over the years. Sparta play at Prague's Generali Arena (called Letná Stadium).

They are one of the most successful teams of Central Europe having reached the semifinals of the European Cup in 1992.

Contents

History

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Early years

At the close of 1893, a small group of young people based around three brothers, Václav, Bohumil and Rudolf Rudl, had the idea of setting up a sports club. On the 16th November, the founders' meeting approved the club's articles of association and one month later, on the 17th December, the first annual general meeting took place. Soon after that, the Athletic Club Sparta came up with its tricolour, in which blue symbolises Europe, red is the symbol of the royal city, and the reasons for the yellow are not known any more.

At the very beginning of the club's football history, the players used to wear black jerseys with a big "S" on the front. They then played for two years in black-and-white striped jerseys, which they returned to, wearing them as a reserve strip, for two years in 1996. In 1906 the club president Dr. Petřík was in England where he saw the famous Arsenal play with their red jerseys and decided to bring one set to Praha. At that time he did not realise he was setting up one of the club's greatest traditions. Together with the red jerseys, Sparta players wear white shorts and black socks.

Shortly after World War I, a team was put together that triggered off the famous period of the twenties and thirties referred to as "Iron Sparta". A football league in Czechoslovakia was established in the mid-twenties and the club collected title after title. To this day the fans still recall the names of the players of that period with admiration: Peyer, Hojer, Perner, Káďa, Kolenatý, Červený. A few years later, some no less famous names appeared, such as Hochman, Burgr, Hajný, Šíma, Silný, Čtyřoký, Košťálek and in particular Oldřich Nejedlý, the top scorer at the 1934 World Cup. Shortly before this most famous era kicked off, Vlasta Burian, the man who later became the king of Czech comedians, played in goal for the club.

The milestones of the first golden period of the club's history are two Central European Cup titles, which in the twenties and the thirties enjoyed the same recognition as that of today's Champions League. Sparta's three titles are definitely important milestones in the cup's history. After two triumphs in 1927 and 1935, the third came in 1964, at a time when the cup's importance was gradually falling in the light of other European cups.

The Golden Years

Golden periods took turns with years when Sparta fans only nostalgically remembered the "good old times". After substantial changes driven by the socialist regime, bringing frequent changes of the club's name rather than achievements to be proud of, the title in 1954 was the last one before a long period of misery. Only the great era of the team around Andrej Kvašňák in the nineteen-sixties brought back memories of the club's golden years.

There are still many people who recollect the era of Kvašňák, Jiří Tichý and Václav Mašek. Those were the days when Sparta hosted the biggest number of fans in its history, with the stadium at that time accommodating almost forty thousand. All three of the above-mentioned heroes were part of the national team that finished second at the 1962 FIFA World Cup in Chile.

Relegation and comeback

Up until 1975, Sparta was the only club that had never been relegated to the second division. In this year however, due to a number of circumstances, the team dropped to division two. The club only spent one year in this division, with the crucial matches for the club's comeback to the elite being sold out.

Nevertheless, the club didn't win another league title until the early eighties. Built around Chovanec, Berger, Hašek, Skuhravý, and Griga, the team regained its former status and won one title after another. In 1983/1984, the team got as far as the UEFA Cup quarterfinal. In the early nineties, this successful era was continued by the next generation of players, such as Siegl, Horňák, Němeček, Frýdek, Němec, Kouba.

1990s to present

Sparta has accomplished a number of considerable achievements internationally. Historians still say the most glorious were the two Central European Cup titles in the period of "Iron Sparta". From a contemporary fan's point of view, the biggest achievement is probably Sparta's performance in "year zero" of the Champions League in 1991-92. Sparta defeated Rangers, then Marseille and got to the semi-final group. Playing Barcelona, Dynamo Kyiv and Benfica, Sparta finished second. As opposed to today's system, only the group winner got to the final. Being second in the group, Sparta was unofficially Europe's third to fourth best team.

Sparta has been a regular participant in the UEFA Champions League, the most prestigious European competition, since 1997. The only exception was in 1998-99 when the club didn't get past the qualification stage, losing to Dynamo Kyiv on penalties. Sparta did qualify during the next three years, however, and in the 1999/2000 and 2001/2002 it won through to the quarter-final stages. In 1999/2000 it actually won its initial group under the management of Ivan Hašek, and was then third in the quarter-final group. In that group Sparta came up against Barcelona which went on to reach the semi-finals. In the 2001/2002 season Sparta was drawn against the eventual winners of both the European competitions during the course of its run. Feyenoord lost twice to Sparta in the champions league group stage and managed to qualify for the UEFA Cup which it went on to win. Sparta went on to meet Real Madrid in the quarter final that year. Sparta did not qualify for the group stage in 2002-03, when it was beaten by the Belgian club Racing Genk in the third round of qualifying. 2003-04 saw Sparta take on two Italian giants. Initially, the club beat Lazio in the group stage, but after an initial draw Sparta failed to get into the quarter finals past Milan. The group stage in 2004-05 did not work out at all well for Sparta. After drawing with Manchester United at the sold-out Toyota Arena in an even contest, the other matches were lost and the club finished last in the group.

Sparta, usually along with Slavia, has always been a base for the national team; Sparta players contributed to the biggest achievements of the Czechoslovak and Czech national teams. It all started in 1934, when Oldřich Nejedlý was the top scorer at the World Cup in Rome; four years later, seven Sparta players were part of the national team at the World Cup in France. In 1962, Kvašňák and Tichý played for the "silver" team in Chile. In 1990 in Italy, where the national team got as far as the quarterfinal, the team's play was mainly created by Chovanec, Bílek, Hašek and other Sparta players, such as Skuhravý, who went on to became a star of the Italian league. Sparta players also contributed to the last big achievement of the already independent Czech Republic team in 1996. Kouba, Frýdek and Horňák returned to Letná from England with silver medals. On top of that, the team was coached by Dušan Uhrin, who had spent his best years at Sparta, and Pavel Novotný came to Sparta two years later. Sparta players also featured in more recent qualification and tournament games of the Czech national team. Miroslav Baranek, Tomáš Votava, Vratislav Lokvenc, Milan Fukal, Martin Hašek, Libor Sionko, Jiří Novotný, Jaromír Blažek and the outstanding talent of Tomáš Rosický helped the team in its UEFA Euro 2000 campaign in Belgium and the Netherlands. The next era culminating in the bronze medal in the UEFA Euro 2004 in Portugal saw Sparta players leaving their unmistakable mark in the national team successes. Zdeněk Grygera, Tomáš Hübschman, Jaromír Blažek, Karel Poborský and academy products Petr Čech and Tomáš Rosický helped Czech football to become recognised as being amongst the elite in Europe and most have played for elite European clubs. Currently Sparta is one of only two teams in the domestic league which supplies players to the national side. It goes without saying that the club also supplies players to the country's various youth teams.

Historical names:

  • 1893 — Athletic Club Královské Vinohrady
  • 1894 — Athletic Club Sparta
  • 1948 — Athletic Club Sparta Bubeneč
  • 1949 — Sokol Bratrství Sparta
  • 1951 — Sparta ČKD Sokolovo
  • 1953 — TJ Spartak Praha Sokolovo
  • 1965 — TJ Sparta ČKD Praha
  • 1990 — TJ Sparta Praha
  • 1991 — AC Sparta Praha
  • 1993 — AC Sparta Praha fotbal, a.s.

Club symbols

Colours of Sparta

The name Sparta was inspired by the fighting spirit and courage of the people from the ancient city of Sparta. From the very beginning, the colours of Sparta were blue (symbolizing Europe), red (symbolizing the royal city), and yellow (together with red, the official colours of Prague). In 1906, one of the members of the committee brought (from his trip to England) jerseys of the London club Arsenal. From that time, Sparta has typically played in their red (or, to be more precise, dark red or maroon) colours. Another symbol of Sparta is the big "S" (Sparta); thus, Sparta and Slavia Prague are usually collectively called the Prague "S".

Major trophies

Former notable players

Current squad

As of 13 January 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
2 Czech Republic DF Tomáš Řepka
3 Croatia DF Manuel Pamić (on loan from Red Bull Salzburg)
4 Austria DF Niklas Hoheneder
5 Czech Republic MF Ladislav Krejčí
6 Slovakia FW Miloš Lačný
Czech Republic MF Marek Střeštík (on loan from Brno)
7 Czech Republic MF Libor Sionko
9 Slovakia FW Milan Jurdík
10 Czech Republic FW Martin Jirouš (on loan from Baník Sokolov)
11 Slovakia MF Igor Žofčák
12 Côte d'Ivoire FW Bony Wilfried
13 Czech Republic DF Ondřej Kušnír
14 Czech Republic FW Václav Kadlec
15 Czech Republic MF Jiří Kladrubský
No.   Position Player}
16 Czech Republic DF Roman Polom
17 Czech Republic FW Jan Holenda
18 Czech Republic DF Martin Kuncl
19 Czech Republic MF Luboš Kalouda (on loan from CSKA Moscow)
20 Slovakia MF Juraj Kucka
22 Czech Republic MF Martin Zeman
23 Belarus MF Denis Kovba
24 Slovakia GK Matúš Kozáčik
25 Czech Republic MF Kamil Vacek
26 Czech Republic GK Milan Švenger
27 Czech Republic MF Luboš Hušek
28 Czech Republic MF Zdeněk Folprecht
29 Czech Republic GK Jaromír Blažek
30 Czech Republic DF Lukáš Hejda

Out on loan

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
x Czech Republic DF Jan Krob (to Dynamo České Budějovice)
x Czech Republic FW Jiří Jeslínek (to Bohemians Prague)
x Slovakia FW Juraj Piroska (to FK Senica)
x Czech Republic MF Jakub Podaný (to FK Senica)
x Slovakia FW Róbert Valenta (to FC Nitra)
 

Winter 2010 transfers

In

16 Czech Republic DF Roman Polom (youth AC Sparta Praha)
5 Czech Republic MF Ladislav Krejčí (youth AC Sparta Praha)
9 Slovakia FW Milan Jurdík (youth AC Sparta Praha)
6 Slovakia FW Miloš Lačný (MFK Ružomberok)
7 Czech Republic MF Libor Sionko (FC København)

Out

9 Russia FW Alexander Prudnikov (end of loan FC Spartak Moscow)
6 Czech Republic DF Roman Hubník (end of loan FC Moscow)
8 Czech Republic MF Patrik Berger (end of career)
9 Czech Republic FW Libor Došek (FK Teplice)

Staff

Manager

First Coach

Second Coach

  • Czech Republic Jan Kmoch

Goalkeepers Trainer

Conditional Coach

  • Czech Republic Aleš Kaplan

Team Manager

  • Czech Republic David Simon

Doctor

  • Czech Republic MUDr. Václav Čermák
  • Czech Republic MUDr. Jiří Váchal
  • Czech Republic MUDr. David Simon

Masseur

  • Czech Republic Tomáš Stránský

Physiotherapist

  • Czech Republic Vít Zelenka

kitman

  • Czech Republic Jiří Novák
  • Czech Republic David Matěka

binman

  • Czech Republic Pavel Kubát

Training camp

Interior of Generali Arena at the start of a game, Nov 2002

Except GENERALI Arena in Letná district - Sparta use a new football center in Strahov Stadium (the second largest stadium in the world) whose space was rebuilt to 8 football fields (6 fields of standard sizes and 2 futsal).

Popular culture

The Czech films Horem pádem (Up and Down) and Non Plus Ultras take the culture of Sparta fandom as one of theirs subjects.

External links


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