AC Sparta Prague

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Sparta Prague
Full name Athletic Club Sparta Praha Fotbal, A.S.
Nickname(s) Železná Sparta
(Iron Sparta)
(The Reds/The Maroons)[note 1]
Founded 16 November 1893; 125 years ago (1893-11-16)
Ground Generali Arena,
Ground Capacity 19,416
Chairman Daniel Křetínský
Manager Zdeněk Ščasný
League Czech First League
2014–15 2nd
Website Club home page

AC Sparta Prague (Czech: AC Sparta Praha [ˈaː ˈt͡sɛː ˈsparta ˈpraɦa]) is a Czech football club based in Prague. 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 semifinals of the European Cup (now the UEFA Champions League) in 1992 and the European Cup Winners Cup in 1973.[1][2] Sparta have also been successful on the international stage, winning the Pequeña Copa del Mundo de Clubes (predecessor to the FIFA Club World Cup) in 1969.[1] Sparta have won 36 domestic league titles, the Czech Cup (formerly Czechoslovak Cup) 27 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 all now play in higher-paying foreign leagues. There are a number of outstanding players who have played for the Sparta over the years. Sparta play at Prague's Generali Arena (also known as Letná Stadium).


Early years

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 is the symbol of the royal city, though the reason for the yellow is not known any more.

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 Arsenal play with their red jerseys and decided to bring one set to Praha. 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 twenties and thirties 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 Hochman, Burgr, Hajný, Šíma, Silný, Čtyřoký, Košťálek and in particular Oldřich Nejedlý, the top scorer at the 1934 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 twenties and the thirties 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.[3]

Golden years

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 forty thousand. All three of the above-mentioned heroes were part of the national team that finished second at the 1962 FIFA World Cup in Chile. Another important players in these "Golden years" were Josef Vojta, Vladimír Táborský or Ivan Mráz.

Relegation and comeback

Up until 1975, Sparta was the only 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 1983/1984, the team got as far as the UEFA Cup quarterfinal. In the early 1990s, this successful era was continued by the next generation of players, such as Siegl, Horňák, Němeček, Frýdek, Němec, Kouba.

1990s to present

Sparta has accomplished a number of considerable achievements internationally. Historians[who?] still say the most glorious were the two Central European Cup titles in the period of "Iron Sparta". From a contemporary fan's point of view, the biggest achievement is probably Sparta's performance in "year zero" of the Champions League in 1991–92. Sparta defeated Rangers, then Marseille and got to the semi-final group. Playing Barcelona, Dynamo Kyiv and Benfica, Sparta finished second. As opposed to today's system, only the group winner got to the final. Being second in the group, Sparta was unofficially Europe's third or fourth best team.

Sparta participated in the group stage of UEFA Champions League, the most prestigious European competition, between 1997 and 2006. The club enjoyed their best Champions League performances in the 1999-00 and 2001–02 seasons, reaching the now-defunct second group stage on both occasions.[4] In 1999—00, it actually 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 Barcelona 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 Racing 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.[4]

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 became 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 UEFA 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

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).[5] 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.[5] Another symbol of Sparta is the big "S" (Sparta); thus, Sparta and Slavia Prague are usually collectively called the Prague "S" and contest the Prague derby.

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

Sparta Prague has three stars above its crest to signify winning over 30 national league titles, adding a new star for every 10 league titles. Sparta currently need four more league wins to add a fourth star.


Interior of Generali Arena at the start of a match, November 2002

Sparta play their home matches at Generali 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 8 football pitches (6 fields of standard sizes and 2 futsal). These are currently used as a training facility by both youth academy and reserve squad.


Current squad 2015–2016

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

No. Position Player
1 Czech Republic GK Marek Štěch
2 Czech Republic DF Ondřej Mazuch
3 Slovakia MF Michal Breznaník
4 Czech Republic MF Adam Jánoš
5 Czech Republic DF Jakub Brabec
6 Czech Republic MF Lukáš Vácha (vice-captain)
7 Nigeria FW Kehinde Fatai
8 Czech Republic MF Marek Matějovský
9 Czech Republic MF Bořek Dočkal (vice-captain)
11 Czech Republic MF Lukáš Mareček
14 Czech Republic MF Martin Frýdek
15 Czech Republic DF Radoslav Kováč
16 Czech Republic FW Matěj Pulkrab
No. Position Player
17 Germany DF Markus Steinhöfer
18 Ivory Coast MF Tiémoko Konaté
20 Czech Republic MF Ondřej Zahustel
21 Czech Republic FW David Lafata (captain)
23 Czech Republic MF Ladislav Krejčí
24 Czech Republic MF Petr Jiráček
25 Czech Republic DF Mario Holek
26 Zimbabwe DF Costa Nhamoinesu
27 Czech Republic GK Miroslav Miller
29 Czech Republic DF Matěj Hybš
30 Czech Republic FW Lukáš Juliš
32 Czech Republic MF Josef Šural
35 Czech Republic GK David Bičík

Out on loan

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

No. Position Player
Czech Republic GK Tomáš Holý (to Fastav Zlín)
Czech Republic GK Tomáš Koubek (to Slovan Liberec)
Czech Republic GK Milan Švenger (to FK Příbram)
Slovakia DF Juraj Chvátal (to FC Slovácko)
Czech Republic DF Ondřej Švejdík (to Slovan Liberec)
Czech Republic MF Aleš Čermák (to Mladá Boleslav)
No. Position Player
Republic of the Congo MF Franci Litsingi (to Gaziantepspor)
Czech Republic MF Milan Jirásek (to Bohemians 1905)
Albania MF Herolind Shala (to Slovan Liberec)
Czech Republic MF Kamil Vacek (to Piast Gliwice)
Czech Republic FW Martin Nešpor (to Piast Gliwice)
Czech Republic FW Patrik Schick (to Bohemians 1905)

Reserve squad

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

No. Position Player
Czech Republic GK Luboš Zavadil
Czech Republic GK Petr Kabele
Czech Republic DF Petr Hovorka
Czech Republic DF Milan Kadlec
Czech Republic DF Milan Piško
Czech Republic DF Simon Těžký
Czech Republic DF David Čapek
Czech Republic MF Patrik Čavoš
Bosnia and Herzegovina MF Aleksandar Kitanović
Czech Republic MF Martin Matoušek
Czech Republic MF Miroslav Grobár
No. Position Player
Czech Republic MF Tomáš Cabadaj
Czech Republic MF Jiří Kulhánek
Czech Republic MF Jan Špaček
Czech Republic MF Daniel Doupal
Czech Republic MF Filip Císařovský
Czech Republic MF Daniel Rajmon
Czech Republic MF Jan Záviška
Czech Republic FW David Surmaj
Czech Republic FW Ondřej Šíma
Czech Republic FW Štěpán Hájek
Czech Republic FW Michal Sáček

Women's section

Notable former players

For all players with a Wikipedia article, see Category:AC Sparta Prague players

Current technical staff

Position Name
Manager Zdeněk Ščasný
Assistant Zdeněk Svoboda
Second Coach Stanislav Hejkal
Goalkeeper Coach Vacant
Reserve manager Michal Horňák
Fitness Coach Tomáš Malý
Team Manager Miroslav Baranek
Doctor David Erhart
Masseur Tomáš Stránsky
Physiotherapist Vít Zelenka
Kitman David Matěka


History in European competitions

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 seasons (S), games played (P), won (W), drawn (D) and lost (L). The statistics include qualification matches.

As of 28 August 2015.
Tournament S P W D L
Cup Winners' Cup 6 30 15 5 10
Europa League 16 84 34 26 24
Champions League 26 140 53 29 58
Total 48 254 102 60 92



(The cup was played between the winners of Czech Cup and Slovak Cup.)




  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).
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Achievements – AC Sparta Praha". Retrieved 2013-11-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Sparta Praha –". 1964-09-16. Retrieved 2013-11-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. The Times, 3 October 1946; Association Football Sparta Draw With Arsenal
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Drubbing in Lyon ends Sparta Prague's worst ever Champions League campaign". Radio Prague. 9 December 2004. Retrieved 14 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Colours of Sparta Prague – Czech Vexillological Association". SpartaForever.CZ. 25 December 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links