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Levski Sofia

Levski Sofia is a football (soccer) club from Bulgaria.

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About Levski Sofia

"Levski Sofia" redirects here. For the sports club, see Levski Sofia (sports club).

PFC Levski Sofia, otherwise simply known as Levski or Levski Sofia, is a professional Association football club based in Sofia, Bulgaria. The club was founded on May 24, 1914 by a group of young students, and is named after Vasil Levski, a Bulgarian revolutionary renowned as the national hero of Bulgaria.

Since its establishment, Levski Sofia has won 73 major domestic trophies (a national record):
26 Bulgarian A Professional Football Group titles, 26 Bulgarian Cup, 3 Bulgarian Supercup, 11 Sofia Championships, 3 Bulgarian Cup, 4 Ulpia Serdika Cups, and has achieved a record 13 Double (association football) and 2 The Treble. The club has a positive balance against all other Bulgarian teams in all national competitions and its a member of the European Club Association. The Blues are also the team with most seasons played in the Football in Bulgaria A PFG and has never been relegated.

Internationally, Levski has reached three European Cup Winners' Cup quarter-finals and two UEFA Cup quarter-finals. In 2006 in football (soccer), it became the first and so far the only Bulgarian club to make it to the group stages of the UEFA Champions League.

The team's regular kit colour is all-blue. Levski's home ground is the Georgi Asparuhov Stadium in Sofia, which has a capacity of 29,200 spectators. To date, the club's biggest rivals are CSKA Sofia, and matches between the two capital sides are commonly referred to as The Eternal Derby in Bulgaria.

History

Sport Club Levski (1914–1969)

Sport Club Levski 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, a date, which is celebrated as Levski's birthday. The club's name was chosen in honour of the wikt:apostle of Bulgarian Freedom (political) Vasil Levski.

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 Bulgarian A Professional Football Group 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 were 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 (footballer), 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 UEFA Champions League in 1965 remained memorable for the Eusébio versus Georgi Asparuhov clash, and the recognition that the Portugal great gave to his Bulgarian counterpart.

Levski Spartak (1969–1985)

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 (footballer born 1957), 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.

Vitosha Sofia (1985–1989)

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.

Levski Sofia (1989–present)

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 (footballer born 1961), 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 F.C. 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 (footballer born 1961), Petar Aleksandrov and Daniel Borimirov) to the Bulgaria national football team that ended on fourth place in the unforgettable American summer of the World Cup 1994.

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, winnings against Olympique de Marseille, Dinamo Bucharest and finishing ahead of the reigning title holder PFC CSKA Moscow in the group stage, triumphing over UEFA Champions League participants Artmedia Bratislava and Udinese Calcio, before being knocked out by Schalke 04 in a controversial tie.

Levski, as the champions of Bulgaria, started their UEFA Champions League 2006-07 participation from the second qualiftying round, where they eliminated Georgia (country) 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 scandal. Levski eliminated Chievo after a decisive 2-0 win in Sofia and a secure 2-2 draw on Italian soil, and becoming the first Bulgarian club to ever reach the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. There they faced last year's winners FC Barcelona from Spain, FA Premier League Chelsea F.C and German powerhouse Werder Bremen.

Levski earned a spot in the 2008–09 UEFA Champions League after domestic champion PFC CSKA Sofia failed to secure a UEFA license because of numerous debts to creditors. Levski lost to FC BATE of Belarus in the third qualifying round.

During 2009/2010 season, 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 2009–10 UEFA Europa League. In the group stage, Levski faced Villarreal CF, S.S. Lazio and FC Red Bull Salzburg. Levski achieved only one win and 5 losses. Levski took the win against SS Lazio, after Hristo Yovov scored the winning goal in the match. The match was played at Stadio Olimpico.

Levski started the 2010/2011 season with a match against Dundalk F.C - a second qualifying round for 2010–11 UEFA Europa League. Levski won the first match and the result was 6:0. In the return leg at Oriel Park, a confident Levski beat Dundalk FC 2-0 with two first half goals from Garra Dembele, the first on 4 mins and the second 10 mins before half-time. In the next round Levski played against Kalmar FF. The first match ended 1-1 in Sweden. In the return leg in Sofia Levski won 5:2. In between The Blues defeated their arch rival CSKA Sofia in the Eternal derby of Bulgarian football with 1:0. Their next match in the 2010–11 UEFA Europa League saw them play AIK Fotboll, from Stockholm, Sweden. The first match ended with a draw, 0-0 and after the game AIK-hooligans attacked the Levski players and staff, after Levski ultras did not show at meeting place. The second match ended in a 2-1 home win for Levski. Goals scored by Daniel Mladenov and Garra Dembélé put Levski in 2010–11 UEFA Europa League group stage. Levski was drawn in 2010–11_UEFA_Europa_League_group_stage Group_C, facing K.A.A. Gent, Lille OSC and Sporting Clube de Portugal. The first match was against K.A.A. Gent. Levski won the match in a 3-2 home win. The winning goal was scored by Serginho Greene. With this win Levski recorded 8 games in-a-row without losing in European competitions. After that Levski lost catastrophically from Sporting Clube de Portugal with 5-0. Followed by another loss against Lille OSC. In Sofia Levski played very well against Lille OSC and was leading 2-1 until Ivo Ivanov scored an own goal to make it 2-2. In the last match of the Group C, Levski take a win against Sporting CP with 1-0, the winning goal was scored by Daniel Mladenov.

In the following 2011/12 season in the Third Qualifying Round of the Europa League, Levski were surprisingly eliminated by Spartak Trnava of Slovakia, following a late-minute 2-1 win in Sofia, and a loss of the same scoreline in Trnava. The penalty shootout cost Levski a place in the Playoff round. This caused an upset with the fans and players, the team barely clinching the fourth position at the winter break in the "A" PFG. Albeit only three points from the leaders Ludogoretz, the acting manager Gerogi Ivanov was sacked from the position, but remained in the club as a sporting director. Nikolay Kostov was appointed as the new manager of the club, giving the supporters a sense of optimism.

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 what were then the outskirts of the city, and a decade later the stadium named Levski Field 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 played in various locations (including the nearby Yunak Stadium) before moving to the "Dinamo" ground, which was located at the site of the modern Spartak swimming complex. In 1961 after districting the team moved to "Suhata Reka" neighborhood. There a Georgi Asparuhov 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 for 29,200 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.

Honours

Domestic

Bulgarian A Professional Football Group
Bulgarian Cup
Bulgarian Supercup
Bulgarian Cup
Ulpia Serdika Cup
Sofia Championship
Doubles and Trebles

International

UEFA Champions League

UEFA Europa League

UEFA Cup Winners' Cup

Balkans Cup

Notes:

PFC Levski Sofia in Europe



First team

As of January 23, 2012




For recent transfers, see List of Bulgarian football transfers winter 2011–12 Levski Sofia.

On loan



Reserves

- These are the players that was registered as a reserves for the previous season and are still in the club. The actual reserves' list is not ready yet.


Club officials

Board of directors


Current technical body

Club Sponsors

Due to a change in the marketing programme, Levski Sofia signed three contracts with world famous firms, just in a week - cola producer PEPSI, biggest Russian bank VTB Capital, Turkish Healthcare Group Acıbadem Healthcare Group, and renewed its contract with the biggest Bulgarian mobile operator, Mobiltel. Levski also have numerous contacts with other firms, including Ceresit, car producer Mercedes-Benz, uhisport, Bulgarian bookmaker Eurofootball, Gorna Banya, DB Schenker, and others.

Player records

Players in bold are currently playing for the team. Statistic is correct as of match played 11 August 2010.

Most appearances for Levski



Most goals scored for Levski



World ranking

As of 31 July 2011 by IFFHS

- 84. Gamba Osaka
- Godoy Cruz Antonio Tomba

- 86. Levski Sofia
- Suwon Samsung Bluewings
- Fulham FC

- 89. Argentinos Juniors

Notable managers

- Ivan Radoev (1946–48)
- Rizko Szomlaj (1948–49)
- Ivan Radoev (1950–51)
- Ljubej Petkov (1952)
- Dimitar Mutafchiev (1953)
- Vasil Spasov (football coach) (1954–56)
- Georgi Pachedzhiev (1956–60)
- Koce Georgiev (1960–61)
- Krasimir Chakarov (1961–64)
- Hristo Mladanov (1964–65)
- Rudolf Vytlačil (1965–66)
- Krasimir Chakarov (1966-69)
- Vasil Spasov (football coach) (1969)
- Krasimir Chakarov (1969–70)
- Rudolf Vytlačil (1970–71)
- Yordan Arsov (1971–73)
- Dimitar Doichinov (1973–75)
- Ivan Vutsov (1975–76)
- Vasil Spasov (football coach) (1976–77)
- Ivan Vutsov (1977–80)
- Hristo Mladanov (1980–82)
- Dobromir Zhechev (1982–83)
- Vasil Metodiev (1983–85)
- Kiril Ivkov (1985–87)
- Pavel Panov (1986–87)
- Vasil Metodiev (1988–89)
- Dobromir Zhechev (1989)
- Pavel Panov (1989–90)
- Vasil Metodiev (1991)
- Dinko Dermendzhiev (1991)
- Ivan Vutsov (1992–93)
- Andrey Zhelyazkov (1992–97)
- Georgi Vasilev (midfielder) (1993–95)
- Ivan Kiuchukov (1995–96)
- Georgi Cvetkov (1996–97)
- Stefan Grozdanov (1997)
- Michail Valchev (1998)
- Vyacheslav Hrozny (1998)
- Angel Stankov (1999)
- Ljupko Petrović (1999–00)
- Dimitar Dimitrov (football manager) (2000)
- Vladimir Fedotov (2000)
- Ljupko Petrović (2000–01)
- Georgi Todorov (football manager) (2000–01)
- Rüdiger Abramczik (2001)
- Slavoljub Muslin (2002–03)
- Georgi Todorov (football manager) (2003–04)
- Georgi Vasilev (midfielder) (2003–04)
- Stanimir Stoilov (2004–08)
- Velislav Vutsov (2008)
- Emil Velev (2008–09)
- Ratko Dostanić (2009)
- Georgi Ivanov (football coach) (2009–10)
- Antoni Zdravkov (2009–10)
- Yasen Petrov (2010–11)
- Georgi Ivanov (football coach) (2011)
- Antoni Zdravkov (2011)
- Nikolay Kostov (2011–)

- Georgi Asparuhov †
- Aleksandar Kostov
- Nikola Kotkov †
- Georgi Sokolov †
- Ivan Vutsov
- Dobromir Zhechev

1970s
- Stefan Aladzhov
- Kiril Ivkov
- Biser Mihaylov
- Kiril Milanov
- Pavel Panov
- Stefan Staykov
- Voyn Voynov

1980s
- Nikolay Iliev
- Bozhidar Iskrenov
- Borislav Mikhailov
- Plamen Nikolov (footballer born 1957)
- Emil Spasov
- Mihail Valchev
1990s
- Aleksandar Aleksandrov (footballer born 1975)
- Daniel Borimirov
- Marian Hristov
- Petar Hubtchev
- Ilian Iliev
- Plamen Nikolov (footballer born 1961)
- Nasko Sirakov
- Zlatko Yankov
- Zdravko Zdravkov
- Magdy Tolba
- John Inglis (footballer)
- Predrag Pažin
2000s (decade)
- José Soares da Silva Filho
- Stanislav Angelov
- Valeri Domovchiyski
- Dimitar Ivankov
- Biser Ivanov
- Georgi Ivanov (footballer born 1976)
- Zhivko Milanov
- Dimitar Telkiyski
- Elin Topuzakov
- Lúcio Wagner
- Hristo Yovov
- Igor Tomašić
- Manuel Mendoza
- Cédric Bardon
- Youssef Rabeh
- Richard Eromoigbe
- Garba Lawal
- Konstantin Golovskoy
- Dalibor Dragic
- Sasa Simonovic
2010s
- João Natailton Ramos dos Santos
- Veselin Minev
- Georgi Petkov
- Garra Dembélé





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

Bulgarian Footballer of the Year

- 1965 - Georgi Asparuhov
- 1970 - Stefan Aladzhov
- 1974 - Kiril Ivkov
- 1975 - Kiril Ivkov
- 1977 - Pavel Panov
- 1984 - Plamen Nikolov (footballer born 1957)
- 1986 - Borislav Mikhailov
- 1987 - Nikolay Iliev
- 1999 - Aleksandar Aleksandrov (footballer born 1975)
- 2000 - Georgi Ivanov (footballer born 1976)
- 2001 - Georgi Ivanov (footballer born 1976)
Winners - 11 times /record/

A PFG Top goalscorers

- 1940 - Yanko Stoyanov (14 goals)
- 1950 - Lubomir Hranov (11 goals)
- 1957 - Hristo Iliev (footballer) (14 goals)
- 1960 - Dimitar Yordanov (12 goals)
- 1965 - Georgi Asparuhov (27 goals)
- 1977 - Pavel Panov (20 goals)
- 1979 - Rusi Gochev (19 goals)
- 1982 - Mihail Valchev (24 goals)
- 1987 - Nasko Sirakov (36 goals)
- 1988 - Nasko Sirakov (28 goals)
- 1992 - Nasko Sirakov (26 goals)
- 1993 - Plamen Getov (26 goals)
- 1994 - Nasko Sirakov (30 goals)
- 2001 - Georgi Ivanov (footballer born 1976) (21 goals)
- 2003 - Georgi Chilikov (22 goals)
- 2011 - Garra Dembele (26 goals)
Winners - 16 times /record/

Levski Fans

Levski Sofia is the most popular football club in Bulgaria. Sector B (south stand) is home to Levski's supporters. Sector B are divided in groups : Sofia-West (Sofia), South Division (Sofia), Ultra Varna (Varna), Torcida Kyustendil (Kyustendil), Blue Junta (Sofia), Blue Huns (Pernik), HD Boys (Sofia), Old Capital Boys (Veliko Tarnovo), Blue Boyars (Veliko Tarnovo), Vandals (Pleven), Blue Warriors (Plovdiv), Varna Crew (Varna), Ultras Burgas (Burgas) and many others.




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