Athletic Club Sparta Praha (Czech pronunciation: [ˈaː ˈtsɛː ˈsparta ˈpraɦa]), commonly known as Sparta Prague and Sparta Praha, is a professional football club based in Prague.

Sparta Prague
Full nameAthletic Club Sparta Praha Fotbal a.s.
Nickname(s)Železná Sparta (Iron Sparta)
Rudí (The Reds/The Maroons)[note 1]
Founded16 November 1893; 130 years ago (1893-11-16)
Groundepet ARENA
OwnerJ&T Credit Investments (60%)
Daniel Křetínský (40%)
PresidentDaniel Křetínský
Head coachBrian Priske
LeagueCzech First League
2022–231st of 16 (champions)
WebsiteClub website
Current season

It is the most successful club in the Czech Republic and one of the most successful in central Europe, winning the central European Cup (also known as the Mitropa Cup) three times as well as having reached the semi-finals of the European Cup (now the UEFA Champions League) in 1992 and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1973.[1][2]

Sparta have won a record 37 domestic league titles,[3] the Czech Cup (and its predecessor Czechoslovak Cup) 15 times, also a record, and the Czech Supercup twice.[1] Sparta was long the main source for the Czech Republic national football team, however lately this has ceased to be the case, as the best Czech players almost exclusively play in foreign leagues.

Sparta play at Prague's Epet Arena, also known as Letná Stadium.

History edit

Club logo until 2021

Early years edit

At the close of 1893, a small group of young people based around three brothers – Václav, Bohumil and Rudolf Rudl – had the idea of setting up a sports club. On 16 November, the founders' meeting approved the club's articles of association and one month later, on 17 December, the first annual general meeting took place. Soon after that, the Athletic Club Sparta came up with its tricolour, in which blue symbolises Europe, red and yellow being the symbols of the (then) Royal City of Prague.

At the very beginning of the club's football history, the players used to wear black jerseys with a big "S" on the front. They then played for two years in black-and-white striped jerseys, which they returned to, wearing them as a reserve strip, for two years in 1996. In 1906, club president Dr. Petřík was in England where he saw the famous Woolwich Arsenal play with their red jerseys and decided to bring one set to Prague. At that time, he did not realise he was setting up one of the club's greatest traditions. Together with the red jerseys, Sparta players wear white shorts and black socks.

Shortly after World War I, a team was put together that triggered off the famous period of the 1920s and '30s referred to as "Iron Sparta". A football league in Czechoslovakia was established in the mid-twenties and the club collected title after title. To this day, the fans still recall the names of the players of that period with admiration: Peyer, Hojer, Perner, Káďa, Kolenatý, Červený. A few years later, some no less famous names appeared, such as Hochmann, Burgr, Hajný, Šíma, Silný, Čtyřoký, Košťálek and in particular Oldřich Nejedlý, the top scorer at the 1934 FIFA World Cup. Shortly before this most famous era kicked off, Vlasta Burian, the man who later became the king of Czech comedians, played in goal for the club.

The milestones of the first golden period of the club's history are two Central European Cup titles, which in the '20 and the '30s enjoyed the same recognition as that of today's Champions League. Sparta's three titles are important milestones in the cup's history. After two triumphs in 1927 and 1935, the third came in 1964, at a time when the cup's importance was gradually falling behind that of other European cups.

In 1946, AC Sparta toured Great Britain opening with a 2–2 draw against Arsenal on 2 October.[4]

Golden years edit

Golden periods alternated with years when Sparta fans only nostalgically remembered the "good old times". After substantial changes driven by the socialist regime, bringing frequent changes of the club's name rather than achievements to be proud of, the title in 1954 was the last one before a long period of misery. Only the great era of the team around Andrej Kvašňák in the 1960s brought back memories of the club's golden years.

There are still many people who recollect the era of Andrej Kvašňák, Jiří Tichý and Václav Mašek. Those were the days when Sparta hosted the biggest number of fans in its history, with the stadium at that time accommodating almost 40,000. All three of the above-mentioned heroes were part of the national team that finished second at the 1962 World Cup in Chile. Other important players in these "golden years" were Josef Vojta, Vladimír Táborský and Ivan Mráz.

Relegation and comeback edit

Up until 1975, Sparta was the only Czech club that had never been relegated to the second division. In this year, however, due to a number of circumstances, the team dropped to division two. The club only spent one year in this division, with the crucial matches for the club's comeback to the elite being sold out.

Nevertheless, the club did not win another league title until the early 1980s. Built around Chovanec, Berger, Hašek, Skuhravý and Griga, the team regained its former status and won five league titles in a row between 1986 and 1991. In 1983–84, the team got as far as the UEFA Cup quarter-finals, falling to Hajduk Split. In the early 1990s, this successful era was continued by the next generation of players, such as Siegl, Horňák, Němeček, Frýdek, Němec and Kouba.

1990s to present edit

Sparta has achieved a number of international successes, including two Central European Cup titles in the period of "Iron Sparta". More recent high points include Sparta's performance in the first year of the UEFA Champions League, in 1991–92. Sparta defeated Rangers, then Marseille and reached the semi-final group. Playing Barcelona, Dynamo Kyiv and Benfica, Sparta finished second. Unlike today's system, only the group winner reached the final. Being second in the group, Sparta was unofficially Europe's third or fourth best team.

Sparta participated in the group stage of Champions League between 1997 and 2006. The club enjoyed their best Champions League performances in the 1999–2000 and 2001–02 seasons, reaching the now-defunct second group stage on both occasions.[5] In 1999–2000, it won its initial group under the management of Ivan Hašek, and was then third in the quarter-final group. In that group, Sparta came up against a Barcelona squad which went on to reach the semi-finals.

In the 2001–02 season, Sparta was drawn against the eventual winners of both the European competitions during the course of its run. Feyenoord lost twice to Sparta in the champions league group stage and managed to qualify for the UEFA Cup, which it went on to win. Sparta went on to meet Real Madrid in the quarter-final that year. Sparta did not qualify for the group stage in 2002–03, when it was beaten by the Belgian club Genk in the third round of qualifying. 2003–04 saw Sparta take on two Italian giants; initially, the club beat Lazio in the group stage, but after an initial draw Sparta failed to get into the quarter-finals past Milan. The group stage in 2004–05 did not work out at all well for Sparta. After drawing with Manchester United at the sold-out Toyota Arena, the other matches were lost and the club finished last in the group with the club achieving their worst-ever return of just one point from the six matches.[5]

Sparta, usually along with Slavia, has always been a base for the national team; Sparta players contributed to the biggest achievements of the Czechoslovak and Czech national teams. It all started in 1934, when Oldřich Nejedlý was the top scorer at the World Cup in Rome; four years later, seven Sparta players were part of the national team at the World Cup in France. In 1962, Kvašňák and Tichý played for the "silver" team in Chile. In 1990 in Italy, where the national team got as far as the quarterfinal, the team's play was mainly created by Chovanec, Bílek, Hašek and other Sparta players, such as Skuhravý, who went on to become a star of the Italian league. Sparta players also contributed to the last big achievement of the already independent Czech Republic team in 1996. Kouba, Frýdek and Horňák returned to Letná from England with silver medals. On top of that, the team was coached by Dušan Uhrin, who had spent his best years at Sparta, and Pavel Novotný came to Sparta two years later. Sparta players also featured in more recent qualification and tournament games of the Czech national team. Miroslav Baranek, Tomáš Votava, Vratislav Lokvenc, Milan Fukal, Martin Hašek, Libor Sionko, Jiří Novotný, Jaromír Blažek and the outstanding talent of Tomáš Rosický helped the team in its UEFA Euro 2000 campaign in Belgium and the Netherlands.

The next era culminating in the bronze medal in the Euro 2004 in Portugal saw Sparta players leaving their unmistakable mark in the national team successes. Zdeněk Grygera, Tomáš Hübschman, Jaromír Blažek, Karel Poborský and academy products Petr Čech and Tomáš Rosický helped Czech football to become recognised as being amongst the elite in Europe and most have played for elite European clubs. Currently, Sparta is one of only two teams in the domestic league which supplies players to the national side. It goes without saying that the club also supplies players to the country's various youth teams.

Historical names:

  • 1893 — Athletic Club Královské Vinohrady
  • 1894 — Athletic Club Sparta
  • 1948 — Athletic Club Sparta Bubeneč
  • 1949 — Sokol Bratrství Sparta
  • 1951 — Sparta ČKD Sokolovo
  • 1953 — TJ Spartak Praha Sokolovo
  • 1965 — TJ Sparta ČKD Praha
  • 1990 — TJ Sparta Praha
  • 1991 — AC Sparta Praha
  • 1993 — AC Sparta Praha fotbal, a.s.

Club symbols edit

Colours of Sparta

The name Sparta was inspired by the fighting spirit and courage of the people from the ancient city of Sparta. From the very beginning, the colours of Sparta were blue (symbolizing speed, athletics and sport in general), red and yellow (the official colours of Royal City of Prague).[6] In 1906, one of the members of the committee brought (from his trip to England) jerseys of the London club Arsenal. From that time, Sparta has typically played in their red (or, to be more precise, dark red or maroon) colours.[6]

Another symbol of Sparta is the big "S"; thus, Sparta and Slavia Prague are usually collectively called the Prague "S" and contest the Prague derby. Sparta Prague has three stars above its crest to signify winning 30–39 national league championships, adding a new star for every ten league titles.

The Czech films Why?, Up and Down and Non Plus Ultras take the culture of Sparta fandom as one of their subjects.

Supporters edit

The supporters of Sparta Prague are called Letenští, meaning "From Letná". They sit in the sectors D33-D36, which is behind the goal in the southern stand. The fans have good relations with those of FC Nitra and the now defunct FC VSS Košice in Slovakia.

Stadium edit

Interior of Generali Arena on a matchday in November 2002

Sparta play their home matches at epet ARENA in the Letná district of Prague. For training Sparta use a football centre at Strahov Stadium (formerly the second largest stadium in the world) whose space was rebuilt to eight football pitches (six fields of standard sizes and two futsal-sized). These are currently used as a training facility by first team, youth academy and reserve squad.

Players edit

Current squad edit

As of 7 September 2023[7]

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   DEN Peter Vindahl Jensen (on loan from AZ Alkmaar)
2 DF   ECU Ángelo Preciado
5 DF   GAM James Gomez
6 MF   FIN Kaan Kairinen
7 FW   NGA Victor Olatunji
8 MF   CZE David Pavelka
9 FW   CZE Jan Kuchta
10 MF   CZE Adam Karabec
14 MF   SRB Veljko Birmančević (on loan from Toulouse)
18 MF   CZE Lukáš Sadílek
19 DF   CZE Jan Mejdr
20 MF   ALB Qazim Laçi
21 MF   CZE Jakub Pešek
22 MF   SVK Lukáš Haraslín
No. Pos. Nation Player
24 GK   CZE Vojtěch Vorel
25 DF   DEN Asger Sørensen
26 DF   CZE Patrik Vydra
27 DF   CZE Filip Panák
28 DF   CZE Tomáš Wiesner
29 MF   CZE Michal Ševčík
30 DF   CZE Jaroslav Zelený
32 MF   CZE Matěj Ryneš
37 MF   CZE Ladislav Krejčí (captain)
39 FW   CZE Václav Sejk
41 DF   CZE Martin Vitík
44 GK   SVK Jakub Surovčík
45 GK   CZE Filip Nalezinek

Out on loan edit

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

No. Pos. Nation Player
DF   NOR Andreas Vindheim (at Teplice)
DF   CZE Matěj Polidar (at Jablonec)
MF   CZE Filip Souček (at Jablonec)
DF   CZE Ondřej Kukučka (at Pardubice)
MF   CZE Kryštof Daněk (at Pardubice)
No. Pos. Nation Player
DF   CZE Dominik Plechatý (at Slovan Liberec)
DF   CZE Martin Suchomel (at Mladá Boleslav)
MF   CZE Jan Fortelný (at Sigma Olomouc)
FW   CZE Matyáš Kozák (at Bohemians 1905)

Reserve squad edit

Women's section edit

Notable former players edit

Player records in the Czech First League edit

As of 31 October 2023.[8]

Highlighted players are in the current squad.

Most clean sheets edit

# Name Clean sheets
1   Jaromír Blažek 111
2   Tomáš Poštulka 40
3   Petr Kouba 37
4   Florin Niță 36
5   Tomáš Vaclík 32

Coaches edit

Current technical staff edit

As of 3 January 2023[9]
Position Name
Head coach   Brian Priske
Assistant coach   Luboš Loučka
  Lars Friis
Goalkeeper coach   Daniel Zítka
  Martin Ticháček
Reserve coach   Tim Sparv
Head of performance   Christian Clarup
Fitness coach   Tomáš Malý
Team manager   Miroslav Baranek
Sporting director   Tomáš Rosický
Sporting manager   Tomáš Sivok
Physiotherapist   Jan Čápek
  Jitka Marhanová
  Adam Kuttenberg
Doctor   Michal Tuček
  Ladislav Šindelář
  Milan Čermák
  Petr Fojtík
  Antonín Chochola
Masseur   Tomáš Havránek
  Kamil Maixner
Kitman   Luděk Stracený
  Tomáš Majer

European statistics edit

The following is a list of the all-time statistics from Sparta's games in the three UEFA tournaments it has participated in, as well as the overall total. The list contains the tournament, the number of games played (Pld), won (W), drawn (D) and lost (L). The statistics include qualification matches.

As of 24 February 2022
Competition Pld W D L GF GA GD
European Cup/UEFA Champions League 146 54 29 63 190 204 –14
Cup Winners' Cup 30 15 5 10 68 32 +36
UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League 124 50 34 40 175 153 +22
UEFA Europa Conference League 2 0 0 2 1 3 –2
Total 302 119 68 115 434 392 +42

UEFA club coefficient ranking edit

As of 16 June 2023[10]
Rank Team Points
107   BATE Borisov 15.000
108   APOEL 14.500
109   Sparta Prague 14.000
110   Astana 14.000
111   Beşiktaş 14.000

Honours edit

Domestic edit

Bohemian Football Union Championship / Czechoslovak First League / Czech First League:

Czechoslovak Cup / Czech Cup:

Czech Supercup:

  • Winners (2): 2010, 2014

Continental edit

UEFA Champions League / European Cup:

UEFA Cup Winners' Cup:

Mitropa Cup (Central European Cup):

Worldwide edit

Small Club World Cup (Pequeña Copa del Mundo de Clubes):

  • Winners (1): 1969

Club records edit

Czech First League records edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ Sparta Prague rivals, Slavia Prague, refer to themselves as "Červenobílí" (English: The Red-Whites) but refer to Spartans as "Rudí" (English: The Dark Reds/The Maroons).
  2. ^ The 1991–92 European Cup was the first European Cup to have a group stage. The group stage acted as the penultimate round of the competition and involved the eight winning clubs from round 2. The clubs were split into two groups of four, playing each other home and away, and the winning club from each group qualified for the Final.

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Achievements – AC Sparta Praha". Archived from the original on 18 November 2013. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
  2. ^ "Sparta Praha –". 16 September 1964. Archived from the original on 4 January 2018. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
  3. ^ "Sparta Prague Win 37th Czech Title After Nine Years Wait". Prague Morning. 23 May 2023. Archived from the original on 28 May 2023. Retrieved 28 May 2023.
  4. ^ The Times, 3 October 1946; Association Football Sparta Draw With Arsenal
  5. ^ a b "Drubbing in Lyon ends Sparta Prague's worst ever Champions League campaign". Radio Prague. 9 December 2004. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Colours of Sparta Prague – Czech Vexillological Association". SpartaForever.CZ. 25 December 2011. Archived from the original on 16 December 2020. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  7. ^ "A-tým". AC Sparta Prague.
  8. ^ "Detailed stats". Fortuna liga. Retrieved 31 October 2023.
  9. ^ "Realizační tým ACS". AC Sparta Praha. Archived from the original on 18 November 2018. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 March 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links edit