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NK Maribor

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NK Maribor.svg
Full nameNogometni klub Maribor
Nickname(s)Vijoličasti (The Purples)
Vijolice (The Violets)
Štajerski ponos (The pride of Styria)
Short nameMaribor, NKMB[1]
Founded12 December 1960; 60 years ago (1960-12-12)
GroundLjudski vrt
PresidentDrago Cotar
Head coachRadovan Karanović (caretaker)
LeagueSlovenian PrvaLiga
2020–21Slovenian PrvaLiga, 2nd
WebsiteClub website
Away colours

Nogometni klub Maribor (English: Maribor Football Club) is a Slovenian professional football club based in Maribor, Slovenia. It competes in the Slovenian PrvaLiga, the top tier of the Slovenian football league system. Nicknamed "The Purples" (Vijoličasti), the club was founded on 12 December 1960. They are regarded as a symbol of Slovenian football, particularly in their home region of Styria in northeastern Slovenia.

Maribor have won a record 15 Slovenian PrvaLiga titles, 9 Slovenian Cups and 4 Slovenian Supercups. The club won seven consecutive league titles between 1997 and 2003, and five consecutive titles between 2011 and 2015. Prior to Slovenia's independence in 1991, Maribor played in the Yugoslav football system. They won the Yugoslav second division in 1967 and were therefore promoted to the top-level Yugoslav First League, where they stayed until 1972. They are one of three Slovenian teams that participated in the Yugoslavia's highest division between the end of World War II in 1945 and the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991.

Maribor is the only Slovenian club that reached the group stages of the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. In addition, the club is one of the two founding members of the Slovenian PrvaLiga (along with Celje) which have never been relegated from the league since the inaugural 1991–92 season.

The club have a long-standing rivalry with Olimpija from the capital Ljubljana, with whom they contest the Eternal derby. Maribor's home ground is the Ljudski vrt stadium, which has a capacity of 11,671 seats. The traditional colours of the club are purple, yellow and white.


Founding and early years (1960–1967)[]

NK Maribor was founded on 12 December 1960.[2] The board of the newly established club then organized the presidential elections and Srečko Koren was appointed as the first club president, while Andrija Pflander was appointed as the first head coach and Oto Blaznik as the first team captain. The club played their first match on 5 February 1961, when they defeated city rivals Kovinar 2–1 (0–0), with Stefan Tolič scoring both goals.[3] Although the team colours, purple and white, were chosen from the beginning, the team played its first match in a green and blue combination, as their violet jerseys were not available in time for the first match.[3] The team won the Slovenian Republic League (third tier of Yugoslav football) in their first season and therefore won the right to contest the qualifications for the Yugoslav Second League.[3] Andrija Pflander was the head coach of the team that won the Republic league. However, he had to step down from the position right before the start of the promotion play-off due to illness.[3] His successor was Vladimir Šimunić, the man who eventually guided the team to their promotion to the Yugoslav First League six years later.[3] Maribor won the first two rounds of the qualifying play-off and eventually defeated Croatian side Uljanik from Pula in the final qualifying phase with the score 2–1 on aggregate, therefore securing the right to play in the second Yugoslav division.[3]

A black and white photo showing a football player kicking the ball towards the goal, while the opponent goalkeeper is trying to make a save.
Maribor playing in the promotion play-off against Uljanik in 1961.

In 1961, the club received a new stadium named Ljudski vrt. On 2 September of that year football fans across Slovenia witnessed the birth of a new rivalry between Maribor and Olimpija Ljubljana.[4] The first match between the two clubs was played in Ljubljana and ended in a 1–1 draw. Matches between these two clubs later became known in Slovenia as the Eternal derby (Večni derbi). After five seasons, the average attendance of home matches was around 8,000 spectators, and under the guidance of coach Simunič, the club won the second division title and managed to reach the Yugoslav first league.[3]

Yugoslav top division (1967–1972)[]

The club's first match in the Yugoslav top division was played in 1967 against Vardar in Skopje (1–1); Maras scored the only goal for Maribor.[3] The first top level home match was played on 27 August 1967 against Proleter Zrenjanin in front of 8,000 spectators and Maribor won with the score 3–0.[3] The goals were scored by Kranjc, Arnejčič and Binkovski.[3] During the same season, football fans across Slovenia witnessed the first ever match in the Yugoslav top flight involving two clubs from Slovenia, when Maribor hosted a match against their rivals Olimpija in front of 13,000 spectators (0–0).[5] Every match between the two clubs during this period would be sold out, with crowd attendance sometimes as high as 20,000.[4] The team finished their first season in Yugoslav top flight in 12th place.[3]

A black and white photo showing a few football players contesting for the ball in mid-air.
Maribor playing against Partizan in 1969.

During their five years in the top division, Maribor played a total of 166 matches and achieved 40 wins, 57 draws and 69 defeats.[citation needed] Maribor's highest league position was in the 1969–70 season when the club finished in 10th place in an 18-club league.[3] The 1971–72 season was their last season in top division as the team finished last with 20 points.[6] Mladen Kranjc, one of the best players in history of the club, was the best goalscorer for the team in each of its five seasons spent in the Yugoslav top division, having scored a total of 54 league goals, which eventually led to his transfer to one of the top Yugoslav clubs, Dinamo Zagreb.[7]

Dark years and bribery scandal (1972–1991)[]

In the next season (1972–73), Maribor played in the second Yugoslav division and finished in second place, which meant that they qualified for the Yugoslav first division promotion play-off.[6] In the first qualifying round against Montenegrin side Budućnost, Maribor won on penalties and qualified for the decisive round against Proleter.[6] The first leg was played in Maribor on 8 July 1973, and is acknowledged as one of the most historic matches in history of the club as it still holds the club's attendance record.[6] There were 20,000 spectators, 15,000 of whom were already present in the stands almost three hours before kick off, eventually helping Maribor win the game 3–1.[8] However, the two-goal advantage proved to be insufficient as Proleter won the second leg in Zrenjanin 3–0 and earned promotion with the score 4–3 on aggregate.[6] In the second leg match when the score was 1–0 for the home team, Ražić had scored an equaliser in the 23rd minute, but the goal was disallowed.[6] The later TV replay showed that the ball had actually crossed the goal line and that the goal should have stood.[6]

The period between 1973 and 1990 is one of the darkest in the clubs's history. In the following 1972–73 season, the club failed to stay near the top of the second division and finished the season in 13th place. In the 1974–75 season, the club got relegated to the Slovenian Republic League for the first time after 14 years in the top 2 tiers, but the club convincingly returned to the second division next season by being 15 points clear at the top of the Slovenian Republic League table at the end of the season. The club was near promotion back to the top tier in the 1978–79, when they finished the season in the second tier as runners-up, six points behind Bosnian side Čelik, but failed to win the promotion play-offs. The next season (1979–80), Maribor finished in fifth place.

At the end of the 1980–81 season Maribor were celebrating as the club managed to avoid relegation down to the Slovenian Republic League, when the "Ball" (Žoga) bribery scandal emerged, and caused the club to be relegated from second tier to third by the decision of the Football Association of Yugoslavia disciplinary committee.[9][10] The club had a secret fund that was used for bribing officials and opponents. The fund was abolished in 1968 after the club was promoted to the first division, but was later established again in 1976.[9] Some club officials were keeping track of the bribery expenses in their black book, which was later confiscated by the authorities.[9] From the book it is clear that Maribor had bribed a total of 31 people. After the scandal and the subsequent relegation to third division, Maribor spent the following years bouncing between the second and third Yugoslav leagues until the independence of Slovenia in 1991.

In 1988 Maribor joined MŠD Branik organization, to form Maribor Branik.[11] Although the club uses only the name Maribor in domestic and international competitions it is still officially registered as NK Maribor Branik to this day.[12] The club always had close ties to MŠD Branik as NK Branik Maribor, an association football club which was part of MŠD Branik, had been dissolved only a couple of months before Maribor was established and, many fans who had supported Branik simply switched to supporting Maribor as they viewed the club as the successor of Branik.[11] In October that year Mladen Kranjc was involved in a tragic motorcycle accident in Dolnja Počehova.[7] Considered to be one of the best goalscorers in the history of the club, he died at the age of 43.[7][10]

Domestic domination after independence (1991–2004)[]

Following the Slovenian independence in 1991, Maribor joined the newly-formed Slovenian League for the inaugural 1991–92 season.[14] The club was one of the league's founding members and are, together with Celje, one of only two clubs who have competed in every season of the Slovenian top division since its establishment.[15][16] In the first couple of seasons, Maribor's rivals Olimpija from Ljubljana, who have had a long tradition of playing in the Yugoslav first league and at the time still had their squad composed of players from that era, dominated the league.[14] Although Olimpija dominated the league, Maribor still managed to win the first edition of the Slovenian Cup in 1992.[14] The final match was played in Ljubljana at Bežigrad Stadium versus Olimpija. It ended in a goalless draw after regular time and was won by Maribor after a penalty shoot-out (4–3).[14] This was the first major success for Maribor.[14] During the next season the team had their UEFA debut, appearing in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. They played their first European match on 19 August 1992, when they hosted Ħamrun Spartans of Malta and won with the score 4–0.[14] Ante Šimundža scored the first historic european goal for the club.[14] Olimpija went on to win the first four domestic championships, until their streak was interrupted by Gorica who won it in the 1995–96 season.[17] Maribor were runners-up in the 1991–92, 1992–93 and 1994–95 seasons, before finishing third in 1993–94 and then fourth in the 1995–96 season. During this period the club managed to win another Slovenian cup in 1993–94, defeating Mura from Murska Sobota in the final with 3–2 on aggregate.[14]

The 1996–97 season proved to be the turning point in the history of Maribor. The club stormed the Slovenian league and became national champions for the first time in their history.[14] During this season average home attendance was 5,289 spectators, which is still a record in the Slovenian League.[18] The final match of the season was played on 1 June 1997, against Beltinci and attracted a crowd of 14,000,[19] which is also a record of the Slovenian top league.[15] In that season Maribor also won the 1996–97 Slovenian Cup, thus winning the domestic Double, a feat also repeated in the 1998–99 season. After their first title in 1996–97 Maribor went on to win six more titles, bringing their total number to seven consecutive titles by 2003. During this period the team also won three Slovenian cups. In the 1999–00 season, the club, led by head coach Bojan Prašnikar, defeated Genk of Belgium (5–1, 0–3) and French side Lyon (1–0, 2–0) and qualified for the UEFA Champions league group stages for the first time in the club's history.[20] Maribor were drawn into the group with Dynamo Kyiv, Bayer Leverkusen, and Lazio.

Financial difficulties (2004–2007)[]

The 2003–04 Slovenian Cup was the last trophy won by Maribor before the darkest era of the club began. Between 2004 and 2007, the club was plagued by major financial difficulties, and Maribor even came close to being disbanded at one point.[21] However, the club did not follow their rivals Olimpija and Mura on that path.[21]

Due to their large debts, which at one point amounted to 4 million euros, the club could not afford to buy new players. As a consequence, the first team at the time consisted mostly of youth players mixed with a couple of foreign players brought to the club on free transfers. In the autumn of 2006, the leadership of the club changed, with the debt still amounting to over 3 million euros, and it was not until January 2011 that the club announced that the debt had been paid in full.[22] During this period, Maribor never finished above third place in the Slovenian league, and were runners-up in the Slovenian Cup twice. They were, however, one of the 11 winners of the 2006 UEFA Intertoto Cup, in which they defeated Spanish side Villarreal in the final round, only a couple of months after Villareal had played in the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League.[23]

Zlatko Zahovič era (2007–2020)[]

Multiple people celebrating at the podium with a trophy in their hands.
Maribor players celebrating the club's ninth league title in 2011.

From the 2007–08 season onwards, former Slovenian internationals Zlatko Zahovič as the sport director, and soon afterwards, Darko Milanič as the head coach, were appointed to head the club's sports department.[24] On 10 May 2008, the club re-opened the renovated Ljudski vrt, which had undergone a major reconstruction that lasted almost 20 months.[25] The first match played in the newly refurbished stadium was a league match against Nafta and was won 3–1 in front of 12,435 spectators.[25] At the start of 2008–09 season, Maribor entered history books as the first club who won 1,000 points in the Slovenian top division, after a 2–1 away win against Rudar Velenje on 26 July 2008.[26] Under the guidance of head coach Darko Milanič, Maribor won all three domestic trophies available to them (the Slovenian League, Cup, and Supercup) in only two seasons with the club, thus becoming the first coach with all three domestic trophies won in Slovenian football.[27] On 12 December 2010, the club celebrated its 50th anniversary.[28][29][30] With the 2–1 away victory over Primorje, on 21 May 2011, Maribor secured its ninth Slovenian league title.[31] Four days later the team played the Slovenian cup final at Stožice stadium and lost to Domžale 4–3.[32]

At the beginning of the 2011–12 season, Maribor played in the 2011 Slovenian Supercup against Domžale on 8 July 2012 and lost with the score 2–1 after regulation.[33] This was the second consecutive loss for Maribor against Domžale in domestic cup finals in five weeks, after losing the Slovenian cup in May 2011.[33] In August 2011, Maribor defeated Rangers and qualified for the group stages of the 2011–12 UEFA Europa League.[34][35] Maribor managed to get one point in six matches, holding Braga to a draw at the home turf.[36] In the same season, Maribor won their tenth league title with a record number of points (85). The league title was confirmed in the game against Triglav Kranj on 22 April 2012 with an 8–0 win.[37] Furthermore, they won the Slovenian domestic cup on 23 May 2012 by defeating their Styrian rivals Celje after penalties, securing their seventh cup title.[38] This was the third time that Maribor managed to win "the double" and the first time since the 1998–99 season.

At the beginning of the 2012–13 season, Maribor played in their fourth successive Supercup final. The match was played on 8 July 2012 at Ljudski vrt stadium. Unlike in the previous two seasons, when the club finished as the runners-up, they managed to win their second Supercup trophy this time, defeating their "eternal rivals" Olimpija Ljubljana 2–1.[39] Maribor qualified to the group stages of the 2012–13 UEFA Europa League for the second season in a row as one of the losers in the play-off round of the 2012–13 UEFA Champions League, where they were eliminated by Dinamo Zagreb.[40][41] They managed to get four points this time,[42] defeating Panathinaikos[43] and drawing with Tottenham Hotspur,[44] both at home. Maribor confirmed their eleventh league title on 11 May 2013, when they defeated Olimpija Ljubljana 2–1.[45] Similarly to the previous season, they again defeated Celje in the 2013 Slovenian Cup Final, securing their fourth "double" in the history.[46]

In the 2013–14 season, Maribor qualified to the group stages of the Europa League for the third consecutive year after losing to Viktoria Plzeň in the Champions League play-off stage.[47] This time, the team earned seven points and progressed through the group stages for the first time after defeating Wigan Athletic 2–1 in the final matchday.[48][49] In the Round of 32, they were eliminated by the future competition winner Sevilla with an aggregate score of 4–3.[50] In the next season, Maribor qualified for the UEFA Champions League group stages for the second time in their history after eliminating Scottish club Celtic with an aggregate score of 2–1 in the play-offs.[51] They were drawn into the Group G alongside Chelsea, Schalke 04, and Sporting CP,[52][53] where they managed to obtain three points in six games after a draw and a defeat against each team.[54]

Several football players in white shirts clapping to the fans.
Maribor players after the 1–1 draw against Spartak Moscow in the UEFA Champions League.

In the 2015–16 season, Maribor was eliminated from the European competitions after just two matches, being defeated by Astana in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League, meaning the club failed to advance to the third qualifying round of the competition for the first time after the 2003–04 season.[55][56] In the same season, Maribor failed to win the domestic title for the first time since 2009–10 after finishing in the second place behind Olimpija Ljubljana.[57]

Maribor won its 14th domestic title during the 2016–17 season.[58] As the national champions, Maribor represented Slovenia in the 2017–18 UEFA Champions League, where the club reached the group stages for the third time in their history, having previously appeared in the same stage of the competition in 1999 and 2014.[59] Maribor competed in Group E, along with Spartak Moscow, Sevilla, and Liverpool. The club obtained three points in six matches after drawing with Sevilla at home and against Spartak twice with all three matches finishing 1–1.[60] Their 7–0 defeat to Liverpool in the third matchday was the club's heaviest home defeat in European competitions, and their second highest European defeat overall.[61] During the same season, however, Maribor failed to win a major trophy for the first time since the 2007–08 season, losing the league title to Olimpija on head-to-head rules after finishing with the same number of points.[62][63] Olimpija also eliminated Maribor in the quarter-finals of the national cup, and therefore Maribor failed to reach the semi-finals of the competition for the first time since the 2002–03 season.[64] In 2018–19, Maribor won its 15th national title under the guidance of Darko Milanič, who won his 6th league title with the club, becoming the most successful manager in the Slovenian top division.[65][66] In the same season, Maribor failed to win their fifth "double" after losing the 2019 Slovenian Cup final against their arch-rivals Olimpija.[67] At the start of the 2019–20 season, Maribor reached the 2019–20 UEFA Europa League play-offs, where they were eliminated by Ludogorets Razgrad on away goals.[68] A few weeks later, Maribor lost in the round of 16 of the 2019–20 Slovenian Cup against a second division side Koper. Maribor was never before eliminated from the Slovenian cup by a team outside the top division; it was also the first time since 1995–96 that Maribor got eliminated so early in the competition.[69]

In the aftermath of three consecutive winless matches in March 2020, Darko Milanič and Zlatko Zahovič resigned.

Club identity[]

Colours, kits and nicknames[]

Throughout the entire history of NK Maribor, the main colour of the club has been purple.[70] For this reason, the team is nicknamed "The Purples" (Vijoličasti)[71][72] and "The Violets" (Vijolice).[73][74] The club is also referred to as the "Viole", predominantly in the region of the former Yugoslavia.[75][76]

When NK Maribor was established, some of the club officials were in favour of red and white colours, inspired by the coat of arms of the city of Maribor.[77] In the club's first match, a friendly against Kovinar Maribor, the team played in red and white kits.[78] However, because many football teams in Yugoslavia already wore red and white jerseys, Maribor officials decided for a new and fresh combination.[78] They decided to follow the example of ACF Fiorentina and their purple and white combination.[70] Oto Blaznik, the first captain of the club, was the one who suggested the combination after seeing the Italian team in the La Gazzetta dello Sport.[70][78] Since it was almost impossible to get purple kits in Yugoslavia in 1961, the players painted the kits themselves.[78] The club's secondary colours are yellow and white.[79][80]

In March 1973, the name of the sponsor first appeared on Maribor kits.[81] Since Slovenia's independence in 1991, the kit sponsors have been Pivovarna Laško, Nova KBM, and Zavarovalnica Sava (Zavarovalnica Maribor prior 2016).

Kit manufacturers[]

Period Kit manufacturer
1993–1995 Erreà[82]
1996–2006 Nike[83]
2007–2011 Zeus Sport[84]
2011–present Adidas[85]


The current crest of the club is based on the official coat of arms of the city of Maribor, which is in turn based on a 14th-century seal with minor differences.[86] The badge is formed in a shape of a shield, and shows the former Piramida Castle that used to stand on top of the Pyramid Hill before it was demolished at the end of the 18th century. A violet blossom forms the backdrop. Unlike the coat of arms of the city of Maribor, the current badge of the club does not represent a white dove facing downwards to the castle, but an athlete.[70] At the top of the shield the name of the club and the year of its foundation is inscribed.[70] The entire badge uses only two colours, purple and yellow.[70] Previous versions of the crest included the colour white, one of the traditional colours of the club, in the form of a white castle in the centre and a white ball that was on top of the shield.[70] Since May 2012, the crest includes a yellow star at the top, indicating the first ten domestic titles won.[87]


A panorama of Maribor's home ground, Ljudski vrt, taken from the East Stand.

The Ljudski vrt (English: People's Garden, German: Volksgarten) stadium is the only stadium in Maribor that lies on the left bank of the river Drava. The stadium is a natural, cultural, architectural and sports landmark of the city.[88][89] The stadium is named after a public park previously located in the area.[88] A cemetery was also located on the same area before the stadium was built.[90][91] The stadium was opened in 1952 and underwent a major reconstruction in the early 1960s.[88] The club first started to compete in the Ljudski vrt in 1961, when the current main stand was still under construction.[88] The stand is notable for its 129.8 metres long and 18.4 m high concrete arch and is still the main stand of the stadium.[88] In 1994 floodlights were installed and the stadium hosted its first evening match.[88] Since then the stadium went through several renovations.[92] The most notable was the one in 2008 when the stadium was completely refurbished. Presently, it has a capacity of 11,671 seats.[93]

Beside being the home ground of Maribor, the stadium also hosts matches of the Slovenia national football team and was their main venue used for the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches. It was one of two stadiums in the country which hosted the national team in UEFA Euro 2012, 2014 FIFA World Cup, and UEFA Euro 2016 qualifiers.[94][95][96] The record attendance in the Yugoslav era was 20,000 spectators, achieved against Proleter Zrenjanin in the promotion play-off match in 1973, while the record for a Slovenian League match is 14,000 spectators, achieved in the title deciding match in the last round of the 1996–97 Slovenian PrvaLiga season.[8][19]


A football stadium full of supporters, which are using flares and smoke bombs.
Viole Maribor in the South Stand of Ljudski vrt

NK Maribor is known for having a loyal and passionate fanbase.[97][98] Besides the city of Maribor and the surrounding area, the club also has a large fan base in the regions of Styria and Carinthia.[99] A small number of supporters are also present in the Slovene Littoral and Upper Carniola.[100] Soon after the foundation of NK Maribor, the club was branded as the citizens club, while their city rivals Železničar Maribor has always been branded as the club of the working class.[101]

The club has an ultras group called Viole Maribor, established in 1989.[102] An apolitical group,[103][104] the core of Viole consists of around 250 members, while the whole group has around 500 active members.[100] They are located on the South Stand of the stadium. The most Maribor fans gathered on an away match in domestic competitions was in 2001, when 3,000 fans gathered in Ljubljana,[105] while the most fans gathered on an away match abroad was in 2017 during the club's UEFA Champions League campaign, when over 2,400 supporters gathered in Liverpool.[106][107] Since 2006, another fan group emerged to support Maribor at their matches. The group is called ESS (East Side Supporters) and consists mostly of former members of Viole Maribor, now season tickets holders.[108] They are, as the name implies, located at the east stand of the stadium.


Eternal derby[]

The Eternal derby (Večni derbi) is the biggest derby in Slovenian football,[109] contested by Maribor and their biggest rivals, Olimpija from the capital Ljubljana. The rivalry traces its roots back to the 1960s, when both clubs used to play in the Yugoslav Second League.[110] The first ever official match between the two clubs was played on 2 September 1962 at Bežigrad Stadium, in front of 10,000 spectators.[111]

The first derby in the Slovenian football system was played on 16 October 1991 at Ljudski vrt.[110] The teams were regularly playing matches in the Slovenian First League and Slovenian Cup between 1991 and 2005, when Olimpija was dissolved due to financial difficulties.[112] In 2005, a new club was established under the name NK Bežigrad. The club started at the bottom of the Slovenian football pyramid and was later renamed to NK Olimpija Bežigrad and eventually to NK Olimpija Ljubljana.[113]

The first derby between Maribor and the newly-formed club was played on 24 October 2007 in the quarter-finals of the Slovenian Cup.[114] When Olimpija was promoted to the Slovenian First League in 2009, the rivalry came back to life.[115] The first match in the top division was played on 8 August 2009 in Maribor in front of 6,000 spectators.[116]

An additional intensity to the rivalry is the fact that both Maribor and Olimpija always have support on their matches from ultras groups. The two groups, Viole Maribor and the Green Dragons, are among the largest in the country,[117] and it is not uncommon that the matches between the two clubs are sometimes interrupted by violent clashes between the two groups or with the police.[118]

Prekmurje–Styria derby[]

The other major rivalry of the club was the one against NK Mura from Murska Sobota, against which they contested the Prekmurje–Styria derby (Štajersko-prekmurski derbi), also called the Northeastern derby (Severovzhodni derbi).[119][120] Similar to Olimpija, Mura also folded and was dissolved in 2005[112] and today the continuation of the rivalry is considered as the matches between Maribor and NŠ Mura, established in 2012, who consider themselves, together with the fans of the old Mura, as the spiritual continuation of the dissolved club.[121][122] The rivalry reached its peak in the 2003–04 season when Mura hosted Maribor at home in the final round of the season. Before the match Maribor was leading the league table and was close to winning their eighth consecutive title while the mid-table position of Mura was predetermined before the final round. However, Mura won the match 2–1[123] and Maribor eventually finished the season in third place, behind ND Gorica and Olimpija, losing the title by two points.[124]

Average attendances[]

Since the establishment of the Slovenian PrvaLiga, Maribor had the highest average attendance in 22 out of 28 seasons.[15] The highest average attendance was in the 1996–97 season, when on average 5,289 people attended Maribor's home matches, which is a record in Slovenian club football.[18] The highest single-game attendance in a Slovenian league match was on 1 June 1997, when Maribor played against Beltinci in front of 14,000 spectators, which is also a joint-record in Slovenian league.[19][125] In addition, Maribor is the first and only club that gathered over one million people to their matches in Slovenian league since its foundation in 1991.[15]

Average attendances at Maribor's home matches in PrvaLiga for the last ten seasons
Season Stadium Total High Low Average
2010–11 Ljudski vrt 64,600[126] 11,000[127] 800[127] 3,589
2011–12 68,400[128] 12,500[129] 1,000[129] 3,800
2012–13 51,000[130] 9,000[131] 900[131] 2,833
2013–14 55,600[132] 6,500[133] 900[133] 3,089
2014–15 79,300[134] 10,000[135] 1,200[135] 4,406
2015–16 76,660[136] 12,160[137] 2,000[137] 4,259
2016–17 76,000[138] 12,000[139] 1,200[139] 4,222
2017–18 63,166[140] 12,166[141] 1,000[141] 3,509
2018–19 85,500[142] 12,000[143] 2,300[143] 4,750


Current squad[]

As of 1 September 2021[144]

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

No. Pos. Nation Player
1 GK Slovenia SVN Ažbe Jug
2 DF Slovenia SVN Mirko Mutavčić
4 MF Slovenia SVN Blaž Vrhovec
5 MF Germany GER Robert Voloder (on loan from Köln)
6 MF Slovenia SVN Aleks Pihler
7 MF Slovenia SVN Rok Kronaveter
8 MF Croatia CRO Marko Alvir (on loan from Viktoria Plzeň)
9 FW Brazil BRA Marcos Tavares (captain)
10 MF Slovenia SVN Rudi Požeg Vancaš
11 FW Slovenia SVN Danijel Šturm
12 DF Slovenia SVN Gregor Sikošek
13 FW Slovenia SVN Rok Sirk
14 MF Slovenia SVN Gal Gorenak
No. Pos. Nation Player
15 MF Slovenia SVN Jan Repas
22 DF Slovenia SVN Martin Milec (vice-captain)
24 MF Slovenia SVN Rok Maher
29 MF Republic of the Congo CGO Antoine Makoumbou (on loan from Tabor Sežana)
30 FW France FRA Malik Sellouki
32 DF Slovenia SVN Nemanja Mitrović
42 DF Slovenia SVN Vid Koderman
47 MF Slovenia SVN Andrej Kotnik
66 DF Montenegro MNE Ilija Martinović
77 FW Slovenia SVN Žan Vipotnik
81 GK Netherlands NED Menno Bergsen
91 FW Serbia SRB Ognjen Mudrinski (on loan from Jagiellonia Białystok)
99 MF Slovenia SVN Nino Žugelj

Out on loan[]

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

No. Pos. Nation Player
16 MF Slovenia SVN Aljaž Antolin (at Beltinci until June 2022)
23 DF Slovenia SVN Žan Kolmanič (at Austin FC until December 2021)
40 DF Argentina ARG Ignacio Guerrico (at Tabor Sežana until June 2022)
No. Pos. Nation Player
59 GK Slovenia SVN Samo Pridgar (at Dravograd until June 2022)
DF Bosnia and Herzegovina BIH Belmin Bobarić (at Primorje until June 2022)
DF Slovenia SVN Žiga Obreht (at Dravograd until June 2022)

Retired numbers[]

19 – Croatia Stipe Balajić, defender and midfielder (1998–2005)

Number 19. It was retired in honour of Stipe Balajić, who was with the club for eight seasons in the late 1990s and early 2000s.[145] In his last couple of seasons he was also team captain.[145] Balajić earned a total of 230 official appearances for the club, scoring 37 goals in the process.[146] He played his last match with the club on 7 July 2005, in a friendly match against his former club Hajduk Split.[145] He started the match and was then substituted after 19 minutes of play in a symbolic gesture.[145]

Youth Academy[]

Maribor's Academy is responsible for youth development at the club, with the goal of developing young players for the future. The academy is composed of eleven youth selections, ranging from U7 to U19. Totally, there are over 210 youth players in the system who are trained by professional staff within the club.[147] The vision of the club and its youth system is not only to produce new players but also to prepare young children for the future and life without football. Therefore, each child who wants to be a member of the academy must also be successful not only on the football field, but also in the field of education.[147] The club has also spread the football school activities to primary schools in the city of Maribor and the surrounding area, where around 500 of the youngest footballers train as part of the Children's Football School.[20][148]

Since the establishment of Maribor's youth system in its present form in 1990, the academy has been one of the most successful in the country in terms of titles won.[147] Under-19 team holds the record for the most titles in the country, having won seven times.[149] The same team has also won five Youth Cups.[150] Other teams are equally successful as both the under-17 and under-15 teams holds the record for the most titles in their category.[151][152] Even younger selections of the club also play in top-flight of their respective age categories and share similar success. In addition, Maribor's youth squads became the first in the country that were able to achieve league victories in the four highest youth levels (U13, U15, U17, and U19) during the course of one season.[147] In 2012, a record eight Maribor players were called to the Slovenia national under-17 football team for the 2012 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship.[153][154]

In 2016, the youth team of NK Maribor took part in the fourth season of the international children's social programme Football for Friendship, the final events of which were held in Milan.[155] The team won the tournament by defeating Debreceni VSC 1–0 in the final.[156]

Purple Warrior[]

An Afro-Brazilian man in a white and purple football kit.
Marcos Tavares has made the most appearances for the club and is also the all-time highest goalscorer and the six-time winner of the Purple Warrior award.

The Purple Warrior (Vijoličasti bojevnik or Vijol'čni bojevnik) is a trophy awarded to the most distinguished player in the past year.[157] The winner of the trophy is decided by a vote on the official website of the club, where everybody can participate. The voting starts at the end of the year and is usually finished in a month. To be eligible to participate in a poll, a player must appear for the club in at least 10 official matches.[157] The voting was first introduced at the end of 2007–08 season, with Czech defender Lubomir Kubica selected as the first ever trophy winner. Defender Elvedin Džinić was the first domestic player that won the award.[158] Between 2007 and 2011 the voting was conducted during the summer and awarded to the best player of the past season, however, the trophy for the season 2011–12 was not awarded. Instead, the club had decided to prolong the voting and award the trophy to the most distinguished player of the past full year (from January until December). Marcos Tavares has won the award six times between 2010 and 2017.[157]

Season Name Nationality Position
2007–08 Lubomir Kubica  Czech Republic Defender
2008–09 Dejan Mezga  Croatia Midfielder
2009–10 Elvedin Džinić  Slovenia Defender
2010–11 Marcos Tavares  Brazil Forward
2012 Marcos Tavares (2)  Brazil Forward
2013 Marcos Tavares (3)  Brazil Forward
2014 Marcos Tavares (4)  Brazil Forward
2015 Marcos Tavares (5)  Brazil Forward
2016 Jasmin Handanović  Slovenia Goalkeeper
2017 Marcos Tavares (6)  Brazil Forward
2018 Saša Ivković  Serbia Defender
2019 Rok Kronaveter  Slovenia Midfielder
2020 Aljoša Matko  Slovenia Forward


Notable managers[]

The following managers have won at least one trophy when in charge of Maribor since Slovenia's independence in 1991:

A white man in all-black suit, watching a match and giving orders to the players.
Darko Milanič is Maribor's most successful manager
Name Years League Cup Supercup
Marijan Bloudek[159] 1989–1993
Branko Horjak[159] 1993–1994
Bojan Prašnikar[159] 1996–2000
Matjaž Kek[159] 2000
Ivo Šušak[159] 2000–2001 2000–01
Darko Milanič[160] 2008–2013
Ante Čačić[161] 2013 2013
Ante Šimundža[162] 2013–2015 2013–14


Maribor's tally of 15 Slovenian Championships[163] and the total of 9 Slovenian Cup titles[164] is the highest in Slovenian football. Maribor holds the record for most consecutive league titles (7), ahead of Olimpija (4) and Gorica (3).[17] They are also the only team in the country that has achieved the Slovenian Championship and the Slovenian Cup doubles on more than one occasion (4). In addition, they are the only club which has won the Slovenian version of the treble, having won the league, cup and supercup during the 2012–13 season.[165] On their official website, UEFA states that Maribor has won one international cup, as Maribor was one of the winners of the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2006.[23] However, the trophy itself was awarded to Newcastle United, the team that advanced farthest in the UEFA competitions that season.[166] Maribor have the best top-flight record in history, having finished below fourth place only once.[167] In addition, they were the first team to win 1,000 points in Slovenian top flight, achieving that with a 2–1 away victory against Rudar Velenje on 26 July 2008.[26]




  • UEFA Intertoto Cup
    • Winners (1): 2006 (joint winners)


See also[]


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