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The most popular football clubs in Bulgaria – CSKA

Hristo Stoichkov from the time he played for the CSKA!
Photo: Архив

The name Central Sports Club of the Army or CSKA shines like a star in the history of Bulgarian football and just cannot be missed when speaking about the most popular football clubs in Bulgaria. CSKA has been champion of Bulgaria 31 times, won the National Cup 19 times, while the huge number of victories abroad makes CSKA the most successful Bulgarian team in the history. In the European chart for the best football clubs of the 20th century CSKA takes the 60th position. The number of world football stars who started their career in CSKA is also big.



The team in 1966

The club had different names during the years, but the official date of its establishment is May 5th, 1948. In that year the army football club of Chavdar (Sofia) united with the sports department of the Central Army Club. On the 5th of May the team was united also with the football club of Septemvri. The newly created team won the champion’s cup during its first participation in the Bulgarian premiership. In 1949 the club of Septemvri became a separate team once again and the army club was called CDNV (ЦДНВ) - Central Club of People’s Army. This team won the champion’s title of the country in 1951 before winning its third cup the following year. In the period 1954-1962 the Army men won 9 consecutive champion’s titles in Bulgaria. In 1962 the team adopted the name CSKA “Red Flag” and won its next Bulgarian cup in 1966. During that season CSKA reached the semi-finals of the European Champion Clubs' Cup, now known as UEFA Champions League, where after two 1:1 draws against the Italian club of Inter, a third match was played to define the winner. The Bulgarian team lost 1:0 and missed the chance to qualify for the finals of one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world. The victories of CSKA continued to follow one after another in the years to come and the international reputation of the team continued to grow with the victories against teams like two-times European champion Ajax in 1973.

To this very day CSKA is known in the world as a nightmare to some of the biggest European clubs. In 1980-1981 the Army men won twice against the European champions of Nottingham Forest in the European Champion Clubs' Cup but lost at the quarterfinals by Liverpool. In the next season CSKA demonstrated once more its world class, reaching the semi-finals of the European Champion Clubs' Cup, after victories against Real Sociedad, Glentoran, and Liverpool. The Bulgarians then faced Bayern Munich at the final. In an attractive game CSKA scored 3 goals against Bayern but lost the match 3:4. CSKA lost 4:0 the next match and left the tournament. The numerous success of the club continued to follow during the whole decade together with the respect towards the Bulgarian team. In season 1988-89 CSKA reached the semi-finals of the Cup Winners' Cup after a victory against the team of Roda Kerkrade. At the semi-finals CSKA met the team Barcelona. The Bulgarians lost 2:4 and 1:2 but the magnificent goals of CSKA legendary striker Hristo Stoichkov grabbed the attention of manager Johan Cruyff. Not long after that Stoichkov joined the team of Barcelona to later become one of the greatest players in the world in the history of football.

© Photo: BGNES

CSKA has always been a team, known not only for its great victories but also for the football stars it gave to the world. The success of players like Emil Kostadinov, Lyuboslav Penev, Trifon Ivanov, Dimitar Berbatov and a number of others is related to the history of CSKA. The names of the biggest players of the army club are also the names that brought the biggest successes with the national team of Bulgaria.

New cups continue to become part of the collection of CSKA and in 2012 the team aims for its 32nd Bulgarian champion’s title. However, the path to another cup goes through a number of matches. Football fans already expect the Sofia derby between CSKA and Levski on April 29 th. The victories of CSKA are so many that it is impossible to tell you briefly about all of them. The joy that the team has brought to its fans has made CSKA one of the most loved and respected clubs in the country, a fact that is to remain true forever. 

English: Alexander Markov

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