Olimpija Ljubljana
Full nameŠportno društvo Nogometni klub Olimpija Ljubljana[1][2][3]
Nickname(s)Zmaji (The Dragons)
Zeleno-beli (The Green and Whites)
Founded2 March 2005; 19 years ago (2005-03-02)
(as NK Bežigrad)
GroundStožice Stadium
Capacity16,038[4][5]
PresidentAdam Delius
Head coachZoran Zeljković
LeagueSlovenian PrvaLiga
2022–23Slovenian PrvaLiga, 1st of 10 (champions)
WebsiteClub website

Nogometni klub Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovene pronunciation: [nɔɡɔˈméːtni ˈklúːp ɔˈlìːmpija ljubˈljàːna]; English: Olimpija Ljubljana Football Club), commonly referred to as Olimpija Ljubljana or simply Olimpija, is a Slovenian professional football club based in Ljubljana that competes in the Slovenian PrvaLiga, the top division of the Slovenian football league system. They have won three Slovenian PrvaLiga titles and four Slovenian Cups.

Founded on 2 March 2005 as NK Bežigrad, Olimpija began competing in the Slovenian fifth division during the 2005–06 season and managed to achieve promotion in four successive seasons, reaching the top division for the first time in 2009 after winning the 2008–09 Slovenian Second League. After seven years in the top division, Olimpija won their first major trophy when they were crowned champions in the 2015–16 season. They won two more league titles in 2017–18 and 2022–23; in 2017–18, Olimpija also won the national cup for the first time, completing their first double.

Initially, the club played at the Bežigrad Stadium and the ŽAK Stadium during the club's stay in the second division and during the first year in the top division. In 2010, they moved to the Stožice Stadium with a capacity of 16,038.

Olimpija's nicknames are the "Green and Whites" (Slovene: Zeleno-beli), referring to their primary colours, and "The Dragons" (Slovene: Zmaji), referring to the dragon which is a symbol of Ljubljana and is represented on the city's coat of arms and on the club's crest. Their main rivals are NK Maribor, with whom they contest the Eternal derby.

History

Foundation

First club crest in 2005

Olimpija Ljubljana was founded on 2 March 2005[1][6][7] as NK Bežigrad,[8][9][10] and was renamed NK Olimpija Bežigrad during their third season.[3][11] The club was renamed again to ŠD NK Olimpija Ljubljana on 3 March 2008 after being granted the rights by the administrative unit of the City Municipality of Ljubljana.[2][11] The club regard themselves as the continuation of the four-times Slovenian Champions Olimpija, who went bankrupt and were dissolved following the 2004–05 season.[7][10] Legally, Olimpija Ljubljana is a distinct and separate club and treated as such by the Football Association of Slovenia.[3][8][12]

Because of their association with the dissolved club, Olimpija Ljubljana was criticised on numerous occasions by several media outlets, which questioned the legitimacy of their actions and even the fact that the club has a year 1911 inscribed on their crest.[3][7][9][10][11][13] They were also criticised by ND Ilirija 1911.[11][14] In 2013, the Financial Administration of the Republic of Slovenia publicly disclosed the list of tax debtors in the country and among those was also NK Olimpija Ljubljana, with a tax debt between €100,000 and €300,000.[3] The next day, Olimpija Ljubljana's officials made a public statement where they confirmed that the club in question (i.e. dissolved Olimpija) is a different legal entity and is not, by any means, connected with Olimpija Ljubljana which does not have any financial obligations to the state or any third parties.[3][15]

Early years (2005–2009)

Assisted by semi-retired club legends of the old Olimpija and other notable Slovenian players, the club started to compete in the lowest tier of Slovenian football and won the fifth division in their first year. In the next two seasons, Bežigrad was promoted to the Slovenian Second League, by winning both fourth and third divisions in consecutive seasons.[16] During their season in the fourth division the club changed its name for the first time and became known as Olimpija Bežigrad. This happened despite the claims of Joc Pečečnik, one of the wealthiest man in Slovenia and, at the time, owner of NK Interblock, that he is in fact the sole owner of the Olimpija name and brand.[17] During the 2008–09 season, the club changed their name once again, this time to Olimpija Ljubljana. In the same season, the club won the second division title and earned a promotion to the Slovenian top division. Throughout the path to the top division, Olimpija was supported by Green Dragons, the fan group of the dissolved Olimpija. The success of the club, who earned a promotion from the fifth division to top division in only four seasons, was somewhat dented by a conflict between several players, coaching staff, club leadership and sponsors, which eventually led to a player-led boycott in the final round of the 2008–09 second division season.[18] Due to this event, the club began their first season in Slovenian top flight (2009–10) with a two points deduction.[18] In addition, several notable players, including Miran Pavlin and Amir Karić, left the club.[citation needed]

Promotion to Slovenian top division (2009–2015)

For their first ever 1. SNL campaign, several players were signed to replace the recent departures, along with a new coach, Branko Oblak. The club had a poor start, as the team, mainly composed of young players and a small number of veterans, only managed one win in the opening four matches. After their defeat against Maribor on 8 August 2009, the club announced that Oblak had agreed to terminate his contract, with assistant manager Safet Hadžić taking his place as caretaker.[19] The club's fortunes soon turned result-wise and Robert Pevnik was hired to take over as manager.[20] The club finished the season in fourth place.[21]

Olimpija in 2010
Match between Olimpija and Domžale in the 2011–12 Slovenian PrvaLiga

In the run up to the 2010–11 season, principal sponsor Izet Rastoder was elected president and Safet Hadžić took over as manager. The season started poorly, with a 5–0 aggregate defeat against Široki Brijeg in the UEFA Europa League qualifying round. This game was later alleged by German television station ARD to have been fixed.[22][23][24] It was later revealed that UEFA officially investigated the match and that three players of Olimpija were under investigation.[25] After another poor start which saw the club only manage two points in five matches, manager Safet Hadžić and director of football Simon Sešlar both left in August 2010.[26] Dušan Kosič then took over as manager with Aleš Čeh as his assistant.[27] On 26 January 2011, former Slovenian international Milenko Ačimovič became the director of football.[28][29] After a poor start into the season, the new director of football brought a couple of players with international experiences, among which was also a midfielder Dare Vršič.[30] During the second phase of the Slovenian championship the team started to show their potential and eventually finished their second 1. SNL season in fourth place, securing a place in the 2011–12 UEFA Europa League qualifications.[31] With the 3–0 home victory against Široki Brijeg on 7 July 2011, Olimpija achieved its first victory in UEFA competitions.[32] In addition, it was the first international club match played at the Stožice Stadium, opened in August 2010.[33] During the 2011–12 Slovenian PrvaLiga season, the club finished as a runner-up behind Maribor.[34]

National champions (2015 to present)

In June 2015, Milan Mandarić, a Serbian-American business tycoon, took over the club.[35] In his first season, the club won the Slovenian League title for the first time.[36] During the 2017–18 season, Olimpija won the double after winning the league title over Maribor with the same number of points, but with a better head-to-head record, and winning the national cup after defeating Aluminij 6–1 in the final.[37][38]

Olimpija won two more cup titles in 2018–19 and 2020–21,[39] before winning their third league championship in 2022–23. They confirmed the title with five rounds to go, after beating rivals Maribor 2–0 in the 31st round.[40] In the same season, Olimpija also won their fourth cup title after defeating Maribor 2–1 in the 2023 Slovenian Cup final, thus achieving their second double in five years.[41]

Name changes

Club colours and kits

Olimpija's original kit

Since the club's foundation, Olimpija has been playing in the combination of green and white, which were also the main colours of the dissolved Olimpija. Today, the club plays in green kits at home and in white kits away. The third kit is usually black or grey.[42] Since June 2022, the kit manufacturer is Puma.[43]

Stadium

Further information: Stožice Stadium

Stožice Stadium

Stožice Stadium is a football stadium located in Ljubljana with a capacity of 16,038 covered seats.[5] It was designed by the Sadar + Vuga architecture bureau and is the biggest Slovenian football stadium.[44] It opened in August 2010 and lies in the Bežigrad district, north of the city centre.[4] Together with an indoor arena, it is a part of the Stožice Sports Park. The stadium also has 558 VIP seats and 97 spots for persons with disabilities.[5] Olimpija played its first match at the new stadium on 22 August 2010, in front of 7,000 spectators in a league match against Koper.[45] The record home attendance was set in 2014, when 15,972 spectators gathered to watch Olimpija play against English Premier League side Chelsea in a friendly match.[4] The stadium is also used as the main venue for home matches of the Slovenia national football team, as well as for many cultural events such as music concerts.

Green Dragons in 2010

Supporters

Olimpija's main supporters are called Green Dragons, one of the two largest ultras groups in the country,[46] who also supported the old Olimpija until the club's dissolution in 2005 and went over to the new club in the same year, as they regard it as a successor of the original club. They mostly wear green and white symbols and clothing, which are the club's colours.

Rivalry

Further information: Eternal derby (Slovenia)

Olimpija's biggest rivalry is with NK Maribor, against whom they contest the Eternal derby (Slovene: Večni derbi). The rivalry is a continuation of the original Eternal derby, contested by Maribor and the defunct Olimpija, which folded and was dissolved in 2005.[47][48] The rivalry dates back to the early 1960s and the time of Yugoslavia, when the first match between the two clubs was played.[49] The rivalry reached its peak in the last round of the 2000–01 season, when Olimpija met Maribor at their home stadium, Bežigrad. Olimpija needed a win for the title, while a draw was enough for Maribor.[50] The match ended in a 1–1 draw, and Maribor won its fifth consecutive title.[51]

The additional intensity of the rivalry is the fact that both Maribor and Olimpija have always had the support of the ultras groups called Viole Maribor, supporting Maribor, and Green Dragons, who support Olimpija. The two groups are the largest in the country, and it is not uncommon for matches between the two clubs to sometimes be interrupted due to violent clashes between the fans or with the police.[52]

Since most of the fans of the defunct Olimpija support the new Olimpija, many see the matches between Maribor and the new club as a continuation of the rivalry and call it by the same name.[53][54] The first match between Maribor and the new Olimpija took place on 24 October 2007 in a Slovenian Cup quarter-final match, which Maribor won 3–1.[55][56] At the time, Olimpija still competed under the name Olimpija Bežigrad.[56]

Squad

Current squad

As of 15 February 2024[57]

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

No. Pos. Nation Player
2 DF Portugal POR Jorge Silva
3 DF Portugal POR David Sualehe
4 DF Serbia SRB Nikola Motika
6 DF Austria AUT Mateo Karamatić
8 DF Lithuania LTU Justas Lasickas
9 FW Slovenia SVN Mustafa Nukić
10 MF Slovenia SVN Timi Max Elšnik (captain)
11 MF Israel ISR Sa'ar Fadida
14 DF Slovenia SVN Marcel Ratnik
15 DF Slovenia SVN Marko Ristić
16 DF Austria AUT Ahmet Muhamedbegović
17 FW Bosnia and Herzegovina BIH Admir Bristrić
18 FW Slovenia SVN Marko Brest
19 FW Croatia CRO Ivan Durdov
20 FW Serbia SRB Nemanja Motika
No. Pos. Nation Player
21 MF Croatia CRO Ivan Posavec
22 GK Slovenia SVN Denis Pintol
23 FW Portugal POR Diogo Pinto
24 FW Netherlands NED Reda Boultam
26 DF Slovenia SVN Vall Janković
30 FW Austria AUT Raul Florucz
31 GK Slovenia SVN Žan Mauricio
34 MF Argentina ARG Agustín Doffo
36 GK Slovenia SVN Gal Lubej Fink
37 FW Brazil BRA Pedro Lucas
69 GK Slovenia SVN Matevž Vidovšek
77 FW Slovenia SVN Aldin Jakupović
80 MF Nigeria NGA Peter Agba
82 FW Albania ALB Redi Kasa (on loan from Egnatia)
99 FW Croatia CRO Antonio Marin

Honours

League

Cup

Season-by-season record

Key

Champions † Runners-up ‡ Promoted
Season Division P W D L F A Pts Pos Cup Supercup Competition Result Name Goals
League Other Top scorer
2005–06 Div 5 ↑ 17 16 1 0 82 9 49 1st N/A Zoran Ubavič 17
2006–07 Div 4 ↑ 22 19 3 0 91 13 60 1st N/A Miran Pavlin
Zoran Ubavič
24
2007–08 Div 3 24 20 3 1 79 13 63 1st QF Davor Bubanja 16
2008–09 Div 2 26 17 5 4 69 25 56 1st R16 Miran Pavlin 15
2009–10 Div 1 36 16 7 13 51 33 53[A] 4th R16 Sebastjan Cimirotič 9
2010–11 Div 1 36 15 10 11 59 43 55 4th QF UEFA Europa League 1QR Adnan Bešić
Davor Škerjanc
8
2011–12 Div 1 36 19 8 9 60 38 65 2nd R16 UEFA Europa League 3QR Dare Vršič 27
2012–13 Div 1 36 21 7 8 73 35 70 2nd QF F UEFA Europa League 2QR Nikola Nikezić 16
2013–14 Div 1 36 12 6 18 38 56 42 7th SF F UEFA Europa League 2QR Nik Omladič 10
2014–15 Div 1 36 17 10 9 55 32 61 4th QF Andraž Šporar 13
2015–16 Div 1 36 22 8 6 75 25 74 1st QF Rok Kronaveter
Andraž Šporar
17
2016–17 Div 1 36 17 9 10 49 35 60 3rd F N/A UEFA Champions League 2QR Leon Benko 14
2017–18 Div 1 36 23 11 2 61 17 80 1st W N/A UEFA Europa League 1QR Abass Issah 12
2018–19 Div 1 36 20 9 7 73 47 69 2nd W N/A UEFA Champions League
UEFA Europa League
1QR
PO
Rok Kronaveter 21
2019–20 Div 1 36 20 7 9 73 44 67 3rd R16 N/A UEFA Europa League 2QR Ante Vukušić 27
2020–21 Div 1 36 16 11 9 45 35 59 3rd W N/A UEFA Europa League 2QR Andrés Vombergar 14
2021–22 Div 1 36 18 8 10 53 38 62 3rd QF N/A UEFA Europa Conference League 3QR Mustafa Nukić 13
2022–23 Div 1 36 23 4 9 60 39 73 1st W N/A UEFA Europa Conference League 2QR Mario Kvesić 13

Timeline

European campaigns

UEFA club competition record

UEFA competitions
Competition Pld W D L GF GA Last season played
UEFA Champions League 10 4 2 4 13 15 2023–24
UEFA Europa League 30 10 8 12 43 35 2023–24
UEFA Europa Conference League 14 5 1 8 11 18 2023–24
Total 54 19 11 24 67 68

Matches

All results (home and away) list Olimpija's goal tally first.

Season Competition Round Club Home Away Aggregate
2010–11 UEFA Europa League First qualifying round Bosnia and Herzegovina Široki Brijeg 0–2 0–3 0–5
2011–12 UEFA Europa League First qualifying round Bosnia and Herzegovina Široki Brijeg 3–0 0–0 3–0
Second qualifying round Republic of Ireland Bohemians 2–0 1–1 3–1
Third qualifying round Austria Austria Wien 1–1 2–3 3–4
2012–13 UEFA Europa League First qualifying round Luxembourg Jeunesse Esch 3–0 3–0 6–0
Second qualifying round Norway Tromsø 0–0 0–1[a] 0–1
2013–14 UEFA Europa League Second qualifying round Slovakia Žilina 3–1 0–2 3–3[b]
2016–17 UEFA Champions League Second qualifying round Slovakia Trenčín 3–4 3–2 6–6[b]
2017–18 UEFA Europa League First qualifying round Finland VPS 0–1 0–1 0–2
2018–19 UEFA Champions League First qualifying round Azerbaijan Qarabağ 0–1 0–0 0–1
UEFA Europa League Second qualifying round Northern Ireland Crusaders 5–1 1–1 6–2
Third qualifying round Finland HJK 3–0 4–1 7–1
Play-off round Slovakia Spartak Trnava 0–2 1–1 1–3
2019–20 UEFA Europa League First qualifying round Latvia RFS 2–3 2–0 4–3
Second qualifying round Turkey Yeni Malatyaspor 0–1 2–2 2–3
2020–21[c] UEFA Europa League First qualifying round Iceland Víkingur Reykjavík 2–1[a]
Second qualifying round Bosnia and Herzegovina Zrinjski Mostar 2–3[a]
2021–22 UEFA Europa Conference League Second qualifying round Malta Birkirkara 1–0 0–1[a] 1–1 (5–4 p)
Third qualifying round Portugal Santa Clara 0–1 0–2 0–3
2022–23 UEFA Europa Conference League First qualifying round Luxembourg Differdange 03 1–1 2–1[a] 3–2
Second qualifying round Romania Sepsi Sfântu Gheorghe 2–0[a] 1–3 3–3 (2–4 p)
2023–24 UEFA Champions League First qualifying round Latvia Valmiera 2–1 2–1 4–2
Second qualifying round Bulgaria Ludogorets Razgrad 2–1 1–1 3–2
Third qualifying round Turkey Galatasaray 0–3 0–1 0–4
UEFA Europa League Play-off round Azerbaijan Qarabağ 0–2 1–1 1–3
UEFA Europa Conference League Group A France Lille 0–2 0–2 3rd out of 4
Slovakia Slovan Bratislava 0–1 2–1
Faroe Islands 2–0 0–3

Colour key: Green = Olimpija win; Yellow = draw; Red = opponents win.

Notes
  1. ^ a b c d e f The tie went to extra time.
  2. ^ a b Lost on the away goals rule.
  3. ^ Only one match per qualifying round was played due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Personnel

List of head coaches

Head coach Period Honours
Slovenia Primož Gliha 2005–2007 2005–06 Fifth Division, 2006–07 Fourth Division
Slovenia Janez Pate 1 July 2007 – 1 June 2009 2007–08 Third League, 2008–09 Second League
Slovenia Branko Oblak 1 July 2009 – 8 August 2009
Slovenia Robert Pevnik 8 September 2009 – 26 May 2010
Slovenia Safet Hadžić 1 July 2010 – 23 August 2010
Slovenia Dušan Kosič 2 October 2010 – 12 December 2011
Slovenia Bojan Prašnikar 12 December 2011 – 25 April 2012
Slovenia Ermin Šiljak 25 April 2012 – 26 August 2012
Slovenia Andrej Razdrh 27 August 2012 – 21 October 2013
Serbia Milorad Kosanović 21 October 2013 – 30 April 2014
Slovenia Darko Karapetrović 30 April 2014 – 17 May 2015
Slovenia Marijan Pušnik 10 June 2015 – 15 December 2015
Serbia Marko Nikolić 11 January 2016 – 18 April 2016
Italy Rodolfo Vanoli 22 April 2016 – 31 August 2016 2015–16 First League
Slovenia Luka Elsner 2 September 2016 – 9 March 2017
Slovenia Marijan Pušnik 9 March 2017 – 3 April 2017
Slovenia Safet Hadžić 4 April 2017 – 2 June 2017
Croatia Igor Bišćan 2 June 2017 – 6 June 2018 2017–18 First League, 2017–18 Slovenian Cup
Serbia Ilija Stolica 11 June 2018 – 31 July 2018
Serbia Aleksandar Linta 31 July 2018 – 27 August 2018
Slovenia Safet Hadžić 28 August 2018 – 3 September 2018
Austria Zoran Barišić 4 September 2018 – 12 December 2018
Slovenia Robert Pevnik 8 January 2019 – 12 April 2019
Slovenia Safet Hadžić 12 April 2019 – 15 June 2020 2018–19 Slovenian Cup
Croatia Dino Skender 19 June 2020 – 8 January 2021
Slovenia Goran Stanković 11 January 2021 – 8 June 2021 2020–21 Slovenian Cup
Serbia Savo Milošević 16 June 2021 – 10 October 2021
Croatia Dino Skender 12 October 2021 – 20 March 2022
Croatia Robert Prosinečki 22 March 2022 – 1 July 2022
Spain Albert Riera 4 July 2022 – 31 May 2023 2022–23 First League, 2022–23 Slovenian Cup
Portugal João Henriques 1 June 2023 – 13 October 2023
Slovenia Zoran Zeljković 18 October 2023 – present

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