The history of the Olimpija football club is long and rich and its beggings are strongly connected with the formation of football in Ljubljana and Slovenija. The year 1911 is the first milestone for FC Olimpija and a symbolic year when the first football clubs were formed in Ljubljana.

Begginings before World War I.

Back on 9 May 1911, the initiators and later the founders of the Ilirija football club met in the Roža restaurant at the Židovska ulica street in Ljubljana. Ilirija is the predecessor of the Olimpija football club. Dr. Ivan Lah, the trader Rohrmann, back clerks Dev, Est, and Kandare, Mencinger, Jurman, Berce, and Cerk were present, and Albin Kandare was elected as the first president.

1911 – 1918

The footballers started playing at the pitch where the Union Brewery stands today, and later they moved to the Ilirija stadium. Their first match against Hermes, the high school club from Ljubljana, ended in a sweeping defeat by 0:18, and the leadership of the club quickly realized that they would need strong reinforcements if they want to successfully play against other clubs (from Croatia, Austria). The solution came in the form of Hermes players, so Ilirija started recruiting individual Hermes players into their team, and soon the entire team played for Ilirija. The integration of these two clubs ended in 1913. That year, more accurately on 5 August 1913, Iliraja hosted the Slavija football club from Prague, which was very important, since this was Ilirija’s first match against a professional team. After the game, Slavija lent their coach, Jirkovski, to Ilirija. The coach stayed in Ljubljana and infused a much-needed dose of professionalism to the team. Until the begging of World War I, two clubs were active in Ljubljana, FC Ilirija and FC Slovan, and football life was completely silent during the war.

The development of football in Slovenia after World War I

Ilirija was reestablished after World War I ended in 1919. Other Ljubljana football clubs were established in this period: Šparta, Svoboda, Jadran, and Primorje. Slovan was also reestablished as well. Other clubs formed all over Slovenia, such as Olimp in Celje, Amater in Trbovlje, and SSK Maribor.

1918 – 1945

For a long time, the biggest competitor for FC Ilirija was ASK Primorje which was established by the people from the Slovenian Litoral in Ljubljana, since their lands were occupied by Italians after the war. Both clubs had large financial problems which led to them joining forces in 1935, initiated by the mayor of Ljubljana at that time, Jura Adlešiča. The new SK Ljubljana club was therefore formed. As the best Slovenian club at that time, they played in the federal cup which prevented them from competing in the Slovenian championship. The best Slovenian football players played for SK Ljubljana, so it could almost be considered the Slovenian national team at that time. The club successfully operated until the begging of World War I when darkness fell on football pitches once again.

The Yugoslav period

Football was revived in Ljubljana and Slovenia after the war ended. SK Ljubljana joined the first Yugoslavian championship after the war in 1945. By the end of they year, they joined forced with two other clubs (ŠD Tabor and ŠD Udarnik). A new large club, FC Enotnost, was formed, and it changed its name to FC Odred three years later. Odred managed to qualify for the first federal league in 1953, but only manage to stay there for a single season. In 1961, the club was renamed ND Triglav for a short time, but the club was renamed to the Academic football club Olimpija mid-season. In the 1964/65 season, Olimpija won against Borec from Banja Luka in front of 15,000 spectators and managed to qualify for the First federal league of Yugoslavia where they remained for the next 19 years. Aside from the games of the First federal league, the most interesting and visited matches were derbies against FC Maribor. On 6 April 1964 19,994 spectators gathered at the Bežigrad stadium which is still a record number of spectators at a football game in Slovenia. Olimpija was shining brightly through this era. In 1970 they qualified for the cup finals where they narrowly lost against Crvena Zvezda (2:2 and 0:1 – they received the goal in the 120th minute of overtime). Despite their defeat, they played in the Cup Winners’ Cup.

1945 – 1991

From 1966 to 1984, je Olimpija played in the Yugoslavian Cup semi-finals twice and twice made it to the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (the predecessor of the UEFA cup), and finished at the bottom part of the standings in the Federal League of Yugoslavia. In1984, they were relegated from the first league which was a large blow to the club, and the consequences led to Olimpija being relegated from the second league as well. But the situation stabilized in the second part of the season and Olimpija finished the championship at 3rd place and returned to the second federal league in style during the new season (20 wins, 6 draws, and no losses with a score of 64:4) . At the game against Dinamo from Vinkovce on 4 September 1988 the beginnings of the Green Dragons fan group can be seen at the stands (officially established on 2 October 1988) which represented the start of organized fan groups at football games in Ljubljana. In the first season of the unified second league, they solidly won the championship in 1989 and returned to the first league once more.

The return of Olimpija meant a real football euphoria at a time when the political stage in the former Yugoslavia was at a boiling point. Its peak was reached upon winning against Crvena Zvezda on 11 11. November 1989 when ko Ljubljana’s footballers achieved a victory after a penalty shoot-out. The next season was the last in the Yugoslav league and not as successful. Olimpija finished in 14th place and lost many players during the season. The number of spectators was slowly decreasing due to the political unrest and the upcoming war. Olimpija played its last game on 17 June 6. 1990 against Dinamo from Zagreb.

New country, new milestones, the birth of the Slovenian league

In June 1991, the Slovenian people finally realized their thousands of years-long dream of having their own country. The sovereignty of course also resulted in the Slovenian National Championship where Olimpija entered as part of twenty-one clubs that fought for the first title of Slovenian national champions.

The Slovenian league, joining clubs from different levels (from national to regional leagues) soon showed that the championship fight would be more interesting than expected. Despite that, there was a declining number of viewers and fans at Olimpija’s home games. In the seventh round, they suffered their first loss against Živila Naklo. They sat in modest seventh place with only eight points. After the winter part of the season ended, Olimpija wound up in second place, three points behind Maribor, but a dream-like sequence followed in the spring. Olimpija won 11. games in a row and on 6 May in front of 7000 spectators they defeated their Maribor rivals by 2:0. At the season’s end on 21 6. June 1992 they raised the first National championship trophy in the history of sovereign Slovenija.

1991 – 1995

Olimpija reigned over the national championship in the following three seasons and had a relatively easy path to three more national championships. In the 1994/95 season, they achieved a resonant victory over Levski from Sofia in the UEFA Cup. 7 members of the Bulgarian national team who reached fourth place in the World championship played for the club from Sofia. In the 1995/96 season, Olimpija was bested by another club for the first time. The league shrank to 10 clubs in that season. Olimpija had a very bad start and a much better second part of the season, but in the end, Gorica won the championship. They still won the cup title and managed to qualify for the round of 16 as the first Slovenian club in the European Cup. First, they eliminated Levski from Sofia after a penalty shoot-out (1:0, 0:1) and later eliminated Aarhus from Denmark due to scoring a goal in the away game (1:1, 0:0). The Greek club AED from Athens bested Olimpija with an overall score of 6:0.

A turbulent era of fake ascent and a hard fall

Things were not going according to plan for Olimpija and the final results in the standings of the first Slovenian league were anything but encouraging. The Slovenian cup win in the 1999/2000 season was the first title in four years. In the year 2000 Bojan Prašnikar was named the head coach of Olimpija and the best attacking duo of the First Slovenian League, , Sebastjan Cimerotič and Ermin Raković, returned to the club, but the club still couldn’t reach a resounding success (thy won second place in the National championship in the 2000/2001 season). The business man Jurij Schollmayer took over the club management in 2002 and attracted famous names to Bežigrad. Branko Oblak was the head coach, and the Croatian star Robert Prosinečki orchestrated the plays on the pitch. Mladen Rudonja and Miran Pavlin (during the winter trade period) returned to Olimpija. Despite the financial support and relatively good conditions, Olimpija could not win the national championship this time, but they successfully won the National Cup.


In the 2003/2004 season, Suad Beširević took over Oblak’s place. He lead the team in European games – good showings against the English giant Liverpool were especially resounding. Olimpija reached second place in the National championship during that season (they were just a point behind Gorica). But the success was only a bandage over the bad fate that waited for them after the end of the season. Sponsors were leaving the club because of different problems and lawsuits, and in the end even Schollmayer left Olimpija. What followed was the worst era in the history of the club.

In 2004 after much procrastination, the crisis committee met where the old management was offered a new mandate with new promises. But the money was still tight and the team fell apart. Footballers were leaving the club and the management needed to look far and wide to find the players for the second part of the season. There were further complications due to the unsent licensing requests which would give their successors a sliver of hope of comparing at the highest national football level. The saga of discontinuing the club ended only in December 2008 due to all formal errors and disputes. Long after the idea of a football Olimpija had returned and raised a new Olimpija to the surface.

A new era

During the so-called “black season”, in February 2005, parents expressed their worry, since they wanted their children to play in the Premier Slovenian leagues. Even the younger squads were facing relegation to lower leagues due to all the club’s troubles at that time. To avoid this, some enthusiasts (Aleš Remih, Miloš Junkar, Darko Škerl) who were connected to the club and parents established FC Bežigrad. It was supposed to enable Olimpija’s young talents to continue the season and remain in the top leagues. The management of Olimpija at the time was also on board with this move. Despite the efforts, the executives of the Football Association of Slovenia decided they were going to relegate seniors as well as younger squads to the lower leagues. FC Bežigrad was at first supposed to include only the youth squads of Olimpija. Because of the degradation and all the problems of the old club, they started a new project which would culminate with the return of Olimpija’s senior squad to the first league in the next five years.

2005 – 2011

The beginnings were hard. Most young players didn’t want to play in the lower leagues, so juniors and cadets couldn’t play in the first season. The main initiators of the new store invited Primož Gliha to help put together a senior squad. He brought a number of famous names of Slovenian football to the club (Janez Pate, Zoran Ubavič, Nenad Podgajski, Ilija Kitič, Stane Komočar, Miran Pavlin, and later also Aleš Čeh, Mladen Rudonja, Amir Karič, Sebastjan Cimerotič …). These players won first place in the fifth league in their first year and were later successful in higher leagues as well. The most loyal Green Dragons were also a part of this story and they offered support for the story of a new rise ever since the beginning. Even though the team played in the fifth league, they still regularly came to the home and away games and offered support for the footballers on their path to return to the first league. A good number of visitors at the home and away games proved the validity of this idea. The clubs that the team faced probably don’t have as many spectators till this day.

The transition to the higher leagues was fast and mostly problem free. In the fifth league, the team only reached a draw once and won all the other matches. The forth league was even less problematic, the team never lost. As a member of the Olimpija academic sports association, the club gained the right to use the name Olimpija in 2007 and started playing as FC Olimpija Bežigrad. A year later, It was renamed to FC Olimpija Ljubljana. In the third league, Pate took over for Gliha, who went to Drava in Ptuj. The derby in the Slovenian cup against Maribor was also important during this period. More viewers watched this game on TV than the European league game on the same night. On 3.5.2009, Olimpija beat Zagorje in the second league game and managed to return to the first league.

The National championships after 21 years

Olimpija finished the first season at the highest level of competition in fourth placed and managed to play in the qualifiers for the European league which the club also managed in the 2010/2011 season. The green and whites did not manage to reach the top of the league until the 2015/16 league season Milan Mandarić became the president of FC Olimpija Ljubljana and the story of good results began.

The 2015/16 season

On 21. May 2016, just a few days after a magnificent victory in rainy Velenje, Darian Matić scored a penalty and raised the long-awaited trophy for the best club in the country. Many generations of fans finally witnessed the moment when their team returned the title where it belongs.

The title run continues – dual title after 25 years

The Croatian expert Igor Bišćan took over Olimpija just before the 2017/18 season The former Dinamo Zagreb, Liverpool, and Panathinaikos player lost in the European qualifications but then began a success story. The Dragons achieved three victories in the first three games of the league and proved their dedication. They only lost twice in the first part of the season and were only three points behind Mariber (which they eliminated in the quarter-finals of the Slovenian cup), and they were excellent in the second part of the season. They opened the spring part of the season with six consecutive wins and they qualified for the Slovenian Cup finals after beating Celje. Towards the end of the season, the Dragons slightly lost their form and reached a couple of goals, so the final part of the season was quite gripping.

The 2017/18 season

The title was decided three rounds before the season ended in Maribor. Olimpija was two points behind Maribor before the game began. The players from Ljubljana put on a heroic performance at the Ljudski Vrt stadium. Andres Vombergar scored in the 90th minute to reach a great 3:2 victory after a game with many turns of fate. Only two rounds remained until the end, and Olimpija needed four points. First, they beat Krško at Stožice, followed by one of the most exciting final games of the Slovenian championship. The Dragons had a better result during the face-offs with Maribor, so a single point would be enough for the championship during the last round. Domžale scored for the lead after an hour of play. Igorja Bišćan’s team was in great trouble but was saved by the great hero, Rok Kronaveter. With less than 10 minutes of play left, Stefan Savić managed to win a penalty for the team. Kronaveter showed nerves of steel, scored from the penalty and the green and whites were able to start their celebration…

Only three days later, a full Stožice stadium awaited the national champions for the cup finals. They faced Aluminij who stood no chance against the high-spirited Dragons. Leon Benko (twice), Ricardo Alves, Goran Brkić, and Issah Abass scored for Olimpija’s win by 6:1. The celebration in Stožice could therefore begin. Branko Ilić, the captain, raised both home trophies in just a couple of days. This happened for the first time in 25 years.

Two more cup trophies

Olimpija put away a new cup trophy only a year later. 30. In May of 2019, the Dragons, led by Safet Hadžić, played Maribor in the Cup finals in Celje. They managed to beat them by 2:1 after two goals by Stefan Savić. In May of 2021, Olimpija again won the cup. Goran Stanković led the Dragons at Bonifika in Koper where they won against Celje. Olimpija won 2:1 behind goals by Đorđe Ivanović and Nik Kapun.

2019 – 2021

A new important milestone for the club came in 2021 when Milan Mandarić left the presidency of Olimpija. He sold the club to the German businessman Adam Delius who came to Ljubljana with a clear goal in mind: improve Olimpija’s results and improve the organization to an incomparably high level.