|Levski – 90 years of joy, pains and hopes|
Rich, mixed, strange and great at the same tine is the history of Levski. A history combining pain and joy in one of generations of Bulgarians. Not only numerous pages but many years also are needed to write such a history…
Established by free will the Club has engrossed and is continuing to engross the conscience of millions compatriots in the country and abroad.
In the eleventh year of the past century a group of secondary school boys decided to establish a sports club. The enthusiasts have been active in the region bordered by Vitoshka, Skobelev and patriarh Evtimii streets in Sofia . At first they have called their project “The Sixth club” since there have been five others in Sofia at the time. But the Balkan and the Second Balkan Wars discomfited the project realization.
Only in the spring of 1914 the dream of the boys became reality. At the suggestion of Boris Vasilev (Borkisha) the Club was named after Vasil Levski – the Apostle of Liberty, with official name “Levski” Sofia Sports Football Club. The establishment date was 24 May, on the place of the today park in front of the 22th Secondary School.
The constituent assembly selects management of the Club consisting of: Vladimir Grigoriev (Vladisa) – president, Georgi Manolov (Manoleto) – vice president, Krum Dinkov – secretary, Boris Vasilev (Borkisha) – cashier, Stefan Toshkov and Atanas Yankov – members, and Kostadin Manolov – steward. For control committee were assigned Zafir Abrashev , Krum Trayanov and Lyubomir Chavdarov . All members of the management were at the same time the first football players of Levski.
Under the Sign of the People’s Power
Should a neutral foreigner read the following lines he probably will be struck dumb and whisper “Oh, Jesus. Is that possibleω”
The change of the political system after the World War Two affects Levski also. Painfully at that. Following the mass purge of the management in the autumn of 1944 the team is united with the Post Sports Club and the new formation is named “Levski” PSC. But a year only later it is transformed in “Levski” Sports Society (Sofia). In 1949 all societies turned to departmental principle with decision of the Bulgarian Communist Party. Under the Soviet model Levski is renamed to “Dinamo” and becomes a club of post office employees and employees in the light and food, wine and tobacco industries. In the end of the fifties follows new reorganization – on territorial principle. The name “Levski” is returned officially with activity of the club in the V region ( Vasil Levski ) in Sofia . The status quo continues till 1968 when the Party makes decision that clubs are to he united to reach the level of western competitors.
In result of that insight Levski is united with the club Spartak of the Ministry of Interior. Football players become militarized and the team gets the name Levski-Spartak.
Until now this act of the regime remains one of the saddest and most offending events for the team fans. But that also is not the end. Following the final match for the Cup of Bulgaria between Levski-Spartak and CSKA in 1985 (passed with rude play and scandalous judging) both the most popular clubs are disbanded and renamed. The ruling circles make decision that Levski hereafter shall be called Vitosha. Not until 1990 the team restores its original name under the strong pressure of the public. Eight years later the team is transformed into a joint-stock company and is functioning under this statute till the present days.
When you are denied own home
The drama of Levski is not at all finished with frequent changes of the team name. In the end of forties the team is forced to change its home also. When established the blue team has not had any playground. Players have trained on ground with dimensions 80x40 m in the Mogilata countryside where the team is founded – in front of the 22 secondary school. A little later the team is training on the drill ground of the VI Sofia Regiment whereon today is rising regally the 1300 Years of Bulgaria monument. Only in 1924 the capital municipality officers allotted ground for construction of own playground. The place is in the neighborhood of the Perlovska river a little bit upstream the Orlov Most in the direction of Vitosha Mountain . The place is dung-hill at the time but today is covered by part of the Vasil Levski National Stadium and part of the Druzba skating-rink (already destroyed). The playground structure is designed by Arch. Zafir Abrashev – founder and former player of the club. Arch. Zafir Abrashev is also the main contractor of construction – activity performed voluntarily by the same. In 1934 the Stadium is already finished and two years later is built up a bath with hot water, something unseen by that time. For long years the playground was the most exploited one in the country. It has accommodated 10 000 persons and along with football matches has given shelter to almost all nationals track-and-field athletics championships. In 1949 is taken decision for construction of a national stadium that put an end to the romantic adventure. The team plays temporary on the Unak Stadium and then on the ground in Ivan Vazov Quarter whereon, by irony of fate, has had a dung-hill also. But on the force of consecutive decision the Stadium became property of the militia team Spartak (Sofia).
Now there is found a swimming complex of the same name. In 1960 Levski starts to build new and last (for now) stadium in the Gerena Quarter. After the political changes in the end of the eighties people wished it named Georgi Asparuhov .
On the elevations of time
The glorious moments and notable persons in the history of the blue team are that much as million lines will be needed to describe them in details. They deserve it unconditionally. Naturally, every fan prizes most the generation of the youth thereof when the same has formed as a fan. Have today teenagers idolize Gonzo, Ivankov, Topuzakov, their grandpas are sill living in the time of Georgi Asparuhov – “Gundi”, Hristo Iliev – “Patrata”, Joro Sokolov, Sasho Kostov. Still older ones will mention with respect Vasil Spasov – “The roller”, Borislav Tsvetkov – “Juk”, Lubomir Aldev , Dimitar doichinov, Bojin Laskov , Radi Maznikov .
The last ones are part of the glorious team of the forties that is literally squashing the competitors. Then comes the generation of “Gundi”, “Patrata”, “Sokoleto” and Sasho Kostov governing victoriously in the sixties as to be replaced in the seventies with dignity by the generation of Pavl Panov, Kiril Ivkov, Stefan Pavlov – “Fifi”, Stefan Aladjov, Kiril Milanov, todor Barzov. Then comes the unforgettable team headed by Vasil Metodiev where in the middle of the eighties shined Bojidar Iskrenov, Nasko Sirakov, Bobi Mihailov, Emil Spasov, Niki Iliev, Rusi Gochev. The next period was not less exciting with the leader Sirakov and players of the rank of Ilian Iliev, Daniel Borimirov , Tsanko Tsvetanov , Petar Hubchev , Zlatko Yankov . These football players literally enjoyed themselves on the ground and drew in the Vasil Levski National Stadium attendance that nowadays could be dreamed of only. The said generation left also clear traces at the World Championship in the USA in 1994 whereat the Bulgarian team ranked forth. Thus we reached to the end of the nineties and the beginning of the new millennium that went under the sign of Levski. With the financially powerful president Michael Chorny and the sponsor in the face of MobilTel without precedent in Bulgaria , ‘the blues” had not competitor on the home stage. The team wined three champion titles, embraced twice the Cup of Bulgaria and gave birth to new legends. Georgi Ivanov – “Gonzo”, and Dimitar Ivankov entered triumphantly in the hall of glory where the most honored and most beloved are.
Stanimir Stoilov that had ceased his competitive carrier and year earlier with the captain’s armband of “the blues” was appointed coach in the summer of 2004.
Skeptics immediately pronounced the appointment for wrong and without any perspective but were refutes quickly. Two years only later Levski reached quarter final in the tournament of the UEFA’s Cup after a historical march of whole 14 matches on European playgrounds. The title under number 24 was not late.
The team without any stars but disciplined and dedicated payers drove blue Bulgaria mad with joy.
Some more facts
What is important for one to know about Levski from the view point of statisticsω Levski has taken part in all the 78 national football championships of Bulgaria and has never finished below the sixth position. The team has been champion 23 times and has finished 26 times on the second position. The club’s show glass houses 24 national cups that is record for the country. Furthermore the team has taken part in nine finals for the Cup of Bulgaria. Levski has in its histry twelve “doubles” winning simultaneously both the insignias of honour. Many of the team’s players have taken part in various national teams – “A” and “B” teams, youth’s, teen’s, Olympic, etc. The goalkeeper Borislav Mihailov is the absolute record-holder in participations in the national team with 102 matches while more than 50 duels under the national emblem have registered Georgi Asparuhov , Dobromir Zechev , Nikolay Iliev , Bojidar Iskrenov , Plamen Nikolov , Nasko Sirakov , Zlatko Yankov , Daniel Borimirov .
Eleven representatives of Levski have been selected for football players of the year in Bulgaria: Asen peshev (1933), L. Stamboliev (1942), Georgi Asparuhov (1965), St. Aladjov (1970), K. Ivkov (1974, 1975), P. Panov (1977), P. Nikolov (1984), B. Mihailov (1986), N. Iliev (1987), Alexander Alexandrov (1999), G. Ivanov (2000, 2001).