Fudbalski klub Partizan (Serbian Cyrillic: Фудбалски клуб Партизан, English: Football Club Partizan) is a professional football club based in Belgrade, Serbia. Being a household name in European football it holds records such as playing in the first UEFA Champions League match in 1955, becoming the first Eastern European club to play in the UEFA Champions League final in 1966, and becoming the first club from Serbia to take part in the UEFA Champions League group stages subsequent to the breakup of the Former Yugoslavia. It is a major part of the Sports Association Partizan. The second division team FK Teleoptik is also owned by Partizan. According to UEFA, Partizan has the second-ranking youngster school in Europe, after Ajax Amsterdam. According to a recent poll, Partizan Belgrade is the second most popular football club in Serbia, with 32.2 percent of the population supporting the club..
Partizan was founded on October 4, 1945, as part of the Yugoslav Sports Association, and was named after the partisans, the communist military formation during the World War II in Yugoslavia. The club is still a member of the same sports association, which includes 25 clubs in different sports, as well as the Football Association of Serbia, but it has complete independence regarding organisation, management, finances, material goods and facilities.
The club was initially formed under the Yugoslav People's Army, and the stadium was named Stadion JNA (Stadium of Yugoslav People's Army). In the early 50's, the club became independent from the Army. The first international match was played on December 6, 1945, against CSKA Moscow (then known as CDKA).
Partizan participated in the first ever Champions Cup match, that took place on September 3, 1955 in Lisbon against Sporting. The final result was 3-3. Partizan also became the first club from Eastern Europe to have played in a European Cup final against Real Madrid, after eliminating Manchester United in the semifinals. In more recent years, the club played in the 2003-04 UEFA Champions League, after eliminating Newcastle United in the last qualifying round. Partizan also played in the round of 16 of the UEFA Cup in 2004-05.
Partizan's current colors are black and white, after wearing blue and red for the first thirteen years.
Internationally, Partizan was the runner-up in the European Cup in 1966, winner of the Mitropa Cup in 1978, quarterfinalist of the European Cup in 1964, quarterfinalist of the Cup Winners' Cup in 1989, and have reached the round-of-16 stage in the UEFA Cup four times.
Over 130 Partizan football players were in the Yugoslav national team and Stjepan Bobek, Branko Zebec, Zlatko Čajkovski, Fahrudin Jusufi, Milan Galić, Milutin Šoškić, Slaviša Jokanović and Predrag Mijatović (who is the current sporting director of Real Madrid) are among them. Former Partizan player Savo Milošević played 101 matches for the national football team, which is an absolute national record.
One of Partizan's most legendary players is Dragan Mance. He led Partizan in their UEFA Cup tie in 1984 against English side Queens Park Rangers. The Rangers won the first leg 6-2, but Partizan advanced after a 4-0 return victory. Mance died September 3, 1985 in a car crash at the peak of his popularity.
The "black and whites" are record-holders of the Yugoslav First League, in terms of points scored during a campaign, with 107 in one year's championship and are the only unbeaten champion team ever (in the 2004-05 season). Partizan also won the most national championships since the break-up of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, being a champion 8 out of 16 times.
Arguably, Partizan's most exciting match was a double header against Celtic in 1989. The first tie was held in Mostar (now Bosnia and Herzegovina) which Partizan won 2-1. The second leg was held in Scotland which Celtic won 5-4. Partizan scored in the last minute to qualify on the away goals rule in front of nearly 50,000 fans. Partizan also played in a 1966 European Cup final against Real Madrid, after eliminating Manchester United in the semifinals. At one point, Partizan was 1-0 up, only to lose to the Spaniards 2-1 at the end.
Some of the highlights from Partizan's recent past include a UEFA Champions League appearance in the 2003-04 season. After eliminating Newcastle United in the last qualifying round, Partizan was drawn in a tough group with Real Madrid, FC Porto (actual winner of the UEFA Cup and the eventual winner of the competition) and Olympique de Marseille (eventual runner-up of the UEFA Cup). The team never lost a home game, playing 0:0 with Real Madrid, and 1:1 with FC Porto and Olympique de Marseille while playing some inspired football in the away match in Madrid. They are the first, and so far the only Serbian team to qualify for the main draw of this elite European club competition since its inception in 1992.
In the 2007-08 UEFA Cup qualifying stages, Partizan was expelled and fined €30,056 due to crowd trouble, after fighting broke out with opponent fans during their qualifying match against HŠK Zrinjski Mostar, after beating them by an aggregate score of 11-1.
Partizan's city rival is Red Star Belgrade. The dual is regarded as one of the greatest football rivalries in the world and the matches between these rivals have been labeled as the eternal derby (Serbian Latin: večiti derbi, Serbian Cyrillic: вечити дерби). These matches are always greatly anticipated and quite spectacular, but in recent years the amount of violence and hooliganism made attendance fall an inevitable consequence. The greatest attendance was about 108,000 spectators.
Partizan's supporters, the Grobari (Gravediggers), were formed in 1970. The nickname itself was given by their biggest rivals (the Delije of Red Star Belgrade, referring to the club's mostly black colors which were similar to the official uniforms of cemetery undertakers. The other theory is that the name arrives from Partizan's stadium street name - Humska (Graves). They support all clubs in the Sports Association Partizan. In 1999, the organized supporters who traditionally occupy the south stands at the stadium split into two groups. The newly formed group named Južni Front (South Front) accused several top members of the Grobari organization for abusing their privileges, and the club itself for favoring those individuals. In 2006, they settled their differences and today there are three major fan groups: Južni Front, Grobari 1970 and Grobari Beograd. From 2005 until 2007, fan groups boycotted all Partizan matches until sports director Nenad Bjeković and general secretary Žarko Zečević resigned, which was their main goal. Bjeković finally resigned in May and Zečević in September 2007. As a result of their demands being accepted, the Grobari returned to the stands of Stadion Partizana.
Danny Dyer featured the Grobari on the Real Football Factories International show. In the episode he labelled the Grobari as a group willing to do anything for the respect of the club.
The club's stadium is now named Stadion Partizana, although it was known as Stadion JNA (Stadium of the Yugoslav People's Army) for most of its history, and is still sometimes called that. The stadium seated approximately 55,000 people before UEFA's law of having seats across the entire stadium. The current capacity is 32,710 people.
The stadium was used from the mid-fifties until 1987 as the final point of yearly festivities called the Day of Youth. Each year on May 25th, the baton of the Relay of Youth was finally passed into the hands of Josip Broz Tito, president of Yugoslavia.
The sports centre Partizan-Teleoptik, also known as "Zemunelo" (the name being composed to show the resemblance to A.C. Milan's sports centre, Milanello), is situated on the surface of almost 10 hectares, in the west part of Zemun, on the intersection of two major highways and in vicinity of the airport. Regarding functionality, architectural solutions, modern equipment and building materials used, this centre is among sports buildings of the highest value in Europe. At present, it's a training and preparatory base of all Partizan selections, consisting of around six hundred sportsmen beginning with the first team, through the 2nd division team of Teleoptik, down to the youngest categories of the large Partizan family.
The stadium is expected to be redesigned by Swiss firm Mob Lab. The new capacity is to be approximately 45,000 seats and will include a very modern business park filled with hotels and office buildings.