SloveniaFootball Association of Slovenia

The official website for European football

Dawn of a golden age

The new millennium has brought a golden era for Slovenian football.
Dawn of a golden age
Slovenia celebrate qualifying for the 2010 World Cup after beating Russia 1-0 in Maribor ©Getty Images

Dawn of a golden age

The new millennium has brought a golden era for Slovenian football.

The Football Association of Slovenia (Nogometna zveza Slovenije or NZS) has its origins in the Ljubljana Football Association, founded on 23 April 1920. This forerunner of the NZS organised footballing activities in the country, including a national championship and cups, under the wider authority of the Yugoslav Football Association (Fudbalski Savez Jugoslavije or FSJ). The national team also debuted during this period, losing 5-0 to a French Olympic side led by Jules Rimet.

In 1935 the two most established clubs from the capital city Ljubljana, FC Ilirija and FC Primorje, merged for financial reasons to become SC Ljubljana and attract the best Slovenian players. This club participated in the federal Yugoslavian First League. Along with NK Maribor and NK Celje, they also played matches against foreign opposition, from Austria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

The years after World War Two were dedicated to restructuring the game. The NZS was formed in May 1948, albeit under the FSJ aegis, and had particular responsibility for local referees and coaches with specific departments for each. The most successful Slovenian club were NK Olimpija Ljubljana, who lost the 1970 Yugoslavian Cup final to FK Crvena zvezda. Olimpija nonetheless entered the European Cup Winners' Cup, falling to SL Benfica in the first round. Other well-known teams were Maribor, NK Rudar Velenje and ND Mura 05 as well as Ljubljana sides ND Slovan and NK Svoboda.

By the mid-1980s a Slovenian team was facing representative sides from the other Yugoslavian republics in friendly matches. Slovenia had been producing excellent players for the Yugoslavia national squad, including Danilo Popivoda, Brane Oblak, Marko Elsner and Srečko Katanec.

The most historic chapter in Slovenia's football story unfolded in the 1990s. Following the country's declaration of independence in June 1991, an inaugural national championship started, comprising Slovenian clubs that had participated in the Yugoslavian first, second and third divisions. Another landmark was attained on 3 June 1992 when an independent Slovenia made their national-team debut in a 1-1 draw with Estonia in Tallinn.

That same year the NZS was admitted to UEFA and FIFA, heralding the country's involvement in the UEFA European Championship qualifiers for EURO '96. The team took their competitive bow in a 1-1 home draw with Italy, FIFA World Cup runners-up, in Maribor on 7 September 1994. Sašo Udovič scored Slovenia's goal.

Two years later the NZS moved into its own headquarters. The top flight, or First League (Prva Liga), was reorganised into a 12-team championship for the 1998/99 campaign, before being reduced to ten clubs in 2005.

The new millennium brought golden days. With Katanec as coach, Slovenia qualified for UEFA EURO 2000. They overcame Ukraine in a qualifying play-off before drawing with Yugoslavia and Norway, and losing narrowly to Spain in their group in the Low Countries. Maribor also performed creditably by becoming the nation's first UEFA Champions League representative, appearing in the 1999/2000 first group stage.

With players such as Zlatko Zahovič showing star quality, further progress was made with qualification for the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan, again via the play-offs, with victory against Romania. However, the team fell at the play-off hurdle in UEFA EURO 2004 qualifying, which precipitated the international retirement of Zahovič.

Slovenia, a nation of about two million people, would next experience a major championship in South Africa 2010. Under coach Matjaž Kek, they navigated a World Cup qualifying group containing eventual winners Slovakia, Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Poland and San Marino. Kek's men won their last four games to earn second place and a play-off against seeded Russia. The hosts led 2-0 in Moscow until Nejc Pečnik struck on 88 minutes. Slovenia won the return leg through Zlatko Dedič's solitary effort at Maribor's Ljudski vrt to advance on away goals.

In September 2016, Slovenia was honoured when the NZS president Aleksander  Čeferin was elected as UEFA's seventh president at the body's Extraordinary Congress in Athens. He had served at the helm of the Slovenian association since 2011, and automatically became a FIFA vice-president when he was elected by UEFA'd member associations.

Skip to top  



Radenko Mijatović

Radenko Mijatović

Nationality: Slovenian
Date of birth:
16 November 1963
Association president since: 2016

• Radenko Mijatović was elected president of the Football Association of Slovenia (NZS) at the general assembly in December 2016. Mijatović was born in the small town of Radjići in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and first came to Slovenia during his military service. He later returned during the 1980s, which were his most active football years. He played for several clubs, and then moved to Austria for eight years, where he played for numerous Austrian lower league teams.

• After his playing career, he remained loyal to football through official roles. At first, he was a referee, both in football as well as futsal, and became an international FIFA futsal referee. From 2009, he served as an NZS vice-president, executive committee member and chairman of the association’s professional football committee. He was also a member of the NZS referees’ committee, and was head of referee assessor education, as well as an NZS referee assessor.

• Mijatović also has an interesting professional path outside of football. He started in the Valkarton concern with various assignments, and eventually became president of the board, leading the concern successfully for eleven years. Currently he is a member of the board at Cetis Celje.

General secretary


Marko Vavpetić

Marko Vavpetić

Nationality: Slovenian
Date of birth: 30 November 1971
Association general secretary since: 2017

• After Aleš Zavrl had completed his long-time work at the Football Association of Slovenia (NZS), including eight years as general secretary, before moving to UEFA, the NZS found his successor in Marko Vavpetić, who had spent his recent professional career working in financial consulting, management of corporations and real-estate projects.

• Vavpetič is a Bachelor of Science in economics. He is determined to use his vast knowledge within football, given that the game’s global development has provided new perspectives as far as financial and strategic management of associations is concerned.

• The NZS general secretary, who played in the top two Slovenian divisions, believes that the association has taken major steps in the past few years to foster growth and develop football’s popularity in the country. He is focussing on infrastructure development, security at football events, and the development of women’s and national team football in Slovenia. The NZS is also concentrating on final preparations for hosting Futsal EURO 2018.

Association info

  • Founded: 1920
  • UEFA affiliation: 1994
  • FIFA affiliation: 1994
  • Address: Predoslje 40 a, p.p. 130 4000 Kranj
  • Telephone: +386 4 27 59 400
  • Fax: +386 4 27 59 456

Association club coefficients

Last updated: 23/02/2018 07:37 CET

Honours by National Teams

No titles won

Domestic competitions

Slovene First League 2017/18

1NK Olimpija Ljubljana3680
2NK Maribor3680
3NK Domžale3673
4NK Rudar Velenje3650
5NK Celje3650
6ND Gorica3647
7NK Krško3634
8NK Aluminij3633
9NK Triglav3628
10NK Ankaran Hrvatini3626
Last updated: 29/05/2018 18:25 CET