CFR Cluj (pronunciation in Romanian: /tʃe.fe.re.kluʒ/) is a Romanian football club from the city of Cluj-Napoca. They were the 2007/2008 season champions of Liga I, Romania's top football league. This is their first championship and the first to be won by a team from outside Bucharest in 17 years, and thus the first non-Bucharest side to qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stages due to Romania gaining an automatic place for the first time. This is a remarkable achievement for the club as just six years earlier, they had been in the third tier of Romanian league football.
The letters in the name stand for "Căile Ferate Române" (Romanian Railroads), the national administration body for railroad transportations.
In 2005, the club received much attention, both at home and abroad, for its commendable performance in the UEFA Intertoto Cup. CFR 1907 Cluj-Napoca reached the final stage of that competition (the first Romanian club to accomplish this) after having knocked out Athletic Bilbao and Saint Etienne. Eventually, CFR lost the final game to the French team of RC Lens. They reached the Group Stage of the Champions League 2008-2009 for the first time, beginning with an unexpected first win on September 16th 2-1 against Champions League regulars A.S. Roma. On the 1 October 2008, in their second ever Champions League match, they produced a 0–0 draw against Premiership leaders, and last year's Champions League finalists, Chelsea F.C.
In 1910, the team won the newly organized Championship of Transylvania. The club consistently finished in second place in that competition between 1911 and 1914, a competition that was interrupted because of the First World War. After the war, Transylvania became part of Romania and the club accordingly changed its name to C.F.R. Cluj, maintaining its links with the national rail organisation. They went on to win two regional titles, in 1918-1919 and 1919-1920.
Between 1934 and 1936, CFR played two seasons in Divizia B, ranking sixth in 1934-1935 and eighth in 1935-1936. In 1936 CFR was relegated to the third league, where the team played for two seasons. The team finished the first season in second place and were ranked fourth after the second season.
After the dissolution of Romania's third league (due to The Second World War), CFR renamed as Kolozsvári AC and played in the Erdely Division of the Hungarian Second League and were promoted to First League. They played in the Hungarian First League between 1941-1944. After the Second World War, CFR played for one season in the third league, earning promotion. In the 1946-47 season, the team merged with another local club, Ferar Cluj, and played in Divizia A for the very first time. Unfortunately, the team lasted only two years in the first league and would not play in the first league for another twenty years.
In 1960, another merger with Rapid Cluj resulted in C.S.M. Cluj. In 1964, the team’s name was changed to Clujeana. In that same year the club’s junior team won the national championship. Three years later, the team’s name was reversed yet again to CFR Cluj.
In 1969, CFR finished first in Divizia B with forty points, five more than their rival, Politehnica Timişoara. The conclusive game of that season was a 1-1 draw with Politehnica. Politehnica had a 1-0 lead at half-time, but CFR came back with a fine header from Soos.
During the summer of 1969, CFR Cluj advanced to Divizia A under the leadership of coach Dr. Constantin Rădulescu, or "Jumate", as his friends called him in his youth. Rădulescu was originally from southern Romania, but he grew to manhood in the stern atmosphere of Transylvania. Before coaching, he had played for C.F.R. and another well-known local team, Universitatea Cluj, during the 1940s.
In the 1969-1970 first league championship, CFR made its debut with a victory (2-0) over ASA Târgu Mureş. The next few games did not go as well. Apart from a 1-0 win over Politehnica Iaşi, there were losses to Steaua Bucharest (1-3) and Dinamo Bucharest (0-2). Unfortunately, these and other defeats were a factor in the team's downhill slide. However, the following spring CFR bounced back with a win over ASA Târgu Mureş (1-0), after a lovely goal from Octavian Ionescu, and managed to avert relegation.
At the beginning of CFR’s second season in Divizia A, Rădulescu was replaced by Eugen Iordache as head coach. During his tenure, CFR did not do well, so that Rădulescu was swiftly brought back. Even so, CFR Cluj found itself again at the bottom of the table before the winter break. The spring of 1971 was somewhat better, although CFR struggled again to avoid relegation. CFR's last game of that season, against UT Arad, was a memorable one. CFR led 1-0 at half-time. UTA, however, managed to overturn the match after having scored twice. Nonetheless, the persistence of the players from Cluj was rewarded with a late goal, tying the game at 2-2. UT Arad went on to play in the European Cups, but, most importantly, CFR avoided relegation.
The 1971-1972 season started off badly for CFR. Losses to Dinamo Bucharest (1-3); Crişul Oradea (0-1, after a last-minute penalty kick), and Jiul Petroşani (1-2 after two regrettable own-goals) meant CFR's demise after the first round of the championship -- the team finished at the bottom, with seven points. CFR’s return was spectacular, although inconsistent at times. The team won some important games, such as a 1-0 with Universitatea Craiova and a 3-0 with Petrolul Ploieşti. By the end of the season, however, CFR was again struggling to stay in Divizia A. CFR was tied at half-time after having led with 2-0 in their game against Politehnica Iaşi. In the second half, two late goals from Ionescu and Petrescu saved the team from relegation. When Rădulescu and his players got back home to Cluj, 3,000 fans turned out to celebrate their feat.
During the summer of 1972, CFR made a transfer of utmost importance. Mihai Adam, from Universitatea Cluj, was traded for Soos. Mihai Adam had been twice Romania's top goalscorer, and was considered one of the best Romanian players of his generation. He and the rest of the team would make the 1972-73 season the most glorious in CFR’s history. The team achieved its highest ranking ever in Romanian football -- fifth in Divizia A. Several important results concluded a great season, including a 2-0 victory against Rapid Bucharest, a 2-2 draw against Sportul Studenţesc Bucureşti, and another draw, 1-1, with Steaua Bucharest. Additionally, the stadium that CFR continues to use even today was built in 1973. To celebrate completion of the stadium, CFR Cluj played a friendly against Cuba. The game ended in a 2-1 victory for CFR.
The 1973-74 season was a rather bad one for CFR, as it barely saved itself from relegation, ranking 14th at the end of the season. The only notable achievement of that season was Mihai Adam’s third title as Romania's top goal-scorer who, even though he was 33 years old, scored 23 goals.
The 1974-75 season was much like the one before: CFR struggled to avoid relegation, achieving its objective all the while.
The 1975-76 season marked CFR’s relegation and its last season in Divizia A during the 20th Century. The problem was that the team was very old, with most of its players in their thirties.
In the 1990s CFR struggled financially and found itself more than once on the brink of bankruptcy. Nevertheless, several very talented players were raised, including Cristian Dulca, Attila Piroska, Cristian Coroian, and Alin Minteuan.
The summer of 2003 was very important for CFR as many new talented players were transferred. Among them -- Cătălin Bozdog, Adrian Anca, Cristian Turcu, and Sabin Piglisan. With these players and others, CFR managed to enter the first league after a spectacular season in Divizia B. CFR Cluj began the season superbly, holding first place for a while. Then the club's main sponsor, Arpad Paszkany, became involved in a public scandal, in which Paszkany accused several referees of corruption. This conundrum plagued the team and ended up in head coach Gh. Cioceri's dismissal. CFR lost several consecutive games before the scandal blew away. After the winter break, Gh. Cioceri was replaced by Aurel Sunda. In the spring of 2004, Sunda's team had a nearly perfect run, winning 14 out of 15 games, with only one draw. One round before the season's end, CFR was one point behind Jiul Petrosani who were in first place. All this changed when Jiul were held to a draw by Gaz Metan Mediaş. This, along with CFR's 3-0 victory, was one of the most crucial moments for the club in the 21st Century. Thus CFR Cluj advanced to the top league for the first time in 28 years.
CFR Cluj's first year back in Divizia A was spectacular, yet inconsistent. CFR finished sixth after the first half of the 2004-2005 championship -- a great accomplishment for a newly promoted team. It was during this time that CFR played one of its most amazing games ever, defeating, at home, Dinamo Bucharest. The final score was 4-2, after four spectacular goals by Adrian Anca and Sorin Oncică, two goals each.
However, the second half of the championship proved disappointing for CFR, as it gathered only 12 points after 15 games. The team finished 11th, though, avoiding relegation.
Also, the Romanian international Dorinel Munteanu came to CFR from Steaua Bucharest. Munteanu would have the double role of player-coach. His first game produced one of CFR's greatest successes. CFR Cluj defeated Athletic Bilbao (1-0, although almost all players from Bilbao's side were from the reserve squad) during the second round of the 2005 UEFA Intertoto Cup. The only goal of the match was scored by Cosmin Tilinca, with a brilliant header. CFR then lost at Bilbao (0-1) but still qualified to the next round after a tense penalty shootout.
Munteanu's team played the next game at Cluj, against St. Etienne. Adrian Anca played one of the greatest games in his career, even though the match ended in a 1-1 draw. Anca hit the crossbar with a header early in the game, and Cosmin Tilinca pushed the ball into the net from the rebound. Anca then went on to earn a penalty, but did not score. He then hit the crossbar a second time, in the second half. The away game, in France, was also an eventful game for CFR Cluj. The game ended in a 2-2 draw, so CFR went on to the next qualifying stage due to its away goals. The game began well for CFR, as Cristian Coroian scored from a penalty kick, earned by Adrian Anca. The second half went by less smoothly for CFR. Julien Sable managed to score for St. Etienne, tying the game at 1-1. Then followed CFR player Laszlo Balint's elimination. However, a Cosmin Tilinca goal gave the team new hope, a hope fulfilled at the end of a memorable match, tied up by the French in the very last minute. In the next round, CFR Cluj easily disposed of Zalgiris Vilnius, 2-1 in Lithuania and 5-1 at home.
For the final match of the 2005 UEFA Interoto Cup, CFR Cluj's opponent was RC Lens. The first game, at Cluj, ended in a 1-1 draw, with both sides having scored from free kicks. Cristian Turcu scored for CFR. The second game was played at Lens, in front of 30,000 French fans. Unfortunately, the Romanian players showed signs of exhaustion and conceded three goals. The player-coach, Dorinel Munteanu, managed to regain some honour for his team with a beautiful goal from a free kick in the 89th minute. Thus ended CFR's Intertoto journey.CFR Cluj finished 5th at the end of the 2005-2006 season.
During the 2006-2007 season, major changes at the club started to occur. Dorinel Munteanu resigned as player-coach, and was replaced by Cristiano Bergodi. Foreign players from Western Europe and South America were transferred. A partnership with Portuguese giants Benfica was signed. On 22 July 2007 CFR Cluj celebrated its centenary by playing a friendly game against Benfica and inaugurating its new illumination system.
By winning the league, CFR Cluj qualified for the group stage of the 2008-09 UEFA Champions League season. They were drawn against Chelsea, AS Roma and Bordeaux in Group A and given little chance of progressing, with odds of 300–1 being given on them winning the competition. In their opening game, Cluj caused a shock by beating Roma 2–1 away, and further exceeded expectations by holding the previous season's finalists Chelsea to a 0–0 draw at home.
CFR Cluj's play their home games at the Dr. Constantin Rădulescu Stadium which has an all-seated capacity of 25,000. With an investment of 10 million euros, from autumn 2006 till June 2007, the club changed the field to higher quality turf, built a state of the art floodlight and updated its infrastructure. All the work has been completed for the 100th birthday of the Club, when the first official friendly game was played with Benfica Lisbon. In 2008 the club expanded the stadium to a capacity of 25,000. The CFR stadium meets all of UEFA's regulations and can host UEFA Champions League matches.
The ultras groups of CFR 1907 Cluj are Commando Gruia and KVSC. Commando Gruia currently has about 1000 members, whereas KVSC has 450. Both groups of fans support their teams greatly during home games. KVSC's slogan is "Incredibili şi Unici din Pasiune!", which translates roughly into "(We are) incredible and Unique because of our Passion!" Commando Gruia was founded in 2002, and its slogan is "Un secol de tradiţie", which means "A century of tradition". And also in the last period some new groups appeared within Commando Gruia, such as Gruppo Gara , Ultra Napoca, Depou Klan and the Girl-Squad Ablaze. The radicals are the Ultras groups of Patriots(PTRS) and Romaniacs(RMNS)which stand separated from the rest of the fans, because they follow the Italian ULTRAS code.