On 8 March 1931, in Montenegro's historical capital Cetinje, the Cetinje Football Association was founded. This organisation operated under the umbrella of the Yugoslav Football Association, as one of ten football bodies supervising the game in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
Between that founding date and the start of the Second World War, a total of 105 clubs were registered in Montenegro. Of the five sides that won the Montenegrin championship leading up to 1941, three remain in existence: FK Budućnost Podgorica, FK Arsenal (from Tivat) and FK Lovćen (from Cetinje). Lovćen are one of the oldest teams in the Balkans, dating back to 1913.
The end of the world conflict brought change as the football administrators of Montenegro, now the smallest republic in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, established a Football Board of Montenegro on 5 August 1945. The board became the Football Federation of Montenegro (Fudbalski savez Crne Gore – FSCG) on 6 December 1948. The federation continued to function under the wider authority of the Yugoslav association.
After Budućnost Podgorica won the 1946 championship, overcoming three fellow competitors in Lovćen, FK Sutjeska (from Niksic) and Arsenal, they were entitled to participate in the first post-war edition of the Yugoslavian First League, the 1946/47 top flight. Budućnost would be the most successful Montenegrin side of the Yugoslav era. Twice Yugoslavian Cup finalists, they lost the 1965 decider to GNK Dinamo Zagreb (2-1) before falling short against HNK Hajduk Split (2-0) in 1977. Sutjeska were Montenegro's only other representative in the First League, and like Budućnost they tasted UEFA Intertoto Cup action in later years.
Montenegro's clubs, Budućnost in particular, were perhaps best renowned as exporters of fine young players to the leading Yugoslav teams. Dejan Savićević and Predrag Mijatović were two notable examples. Savićević won two European Champion Clubs' Cups, with FK Crvena zvezda in 1991 and AC Milan in 1994. Mijatović scored the goal in the 1998 UEFA Champions League final that returned the European title to Real Madrid CF after a 32-year wait. Other international talents schooled by Budućnost were: Branko Rašović, Zoran Filipović, Ante Miročević, Branko and Dragoljub Brnović, Dragoje Leković, and Željko Petrović.
After the break-up of the Socialist Federal Republic, Montenegro became part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, before this federation was replaced by a union of Serbia and Montenegro. Throughout this period more Montenegrin sides experienced top-flight football, with FK Zeta the biggest achievers. The Golubovci-based outfit got to the UEFA Cup second qualifying round in 2005, also entering the 2006 UEFA Intertoto Cup. Zeta were subsequently the first champions of an independent Montenegro after the country gained independence in June 2006 following a referendum. Zeta headed a 12-team field competing, in that 2006/07 season, under the aegis of a newly autonomous Football Federation of Montenegro (FSCG). UEFA and FIFA membership followed for the FSCG on 26 January and 29 May 2007.
Sandwiched in between those two milestones was Montenegro's international debut in a 2-1 friendly win against Hungary on 24 March 2007. Mirko Vučinić and Igor Burzanović scored the goals for a side coached by Zoran Filipović. The national team made their competitive bow in a FIFA World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria in Podgorica on 6 September 2008, which was drawn 2-2. Their first competitive victory would be a 2-1 home success against Georgia on 10 October 2009. With a squad containing talents such as Mirko Vučinić and Stevan Jovetić, the team got to the UEFA EURO 2012 play-offs, succumbing over two legs to the Czech Republic. Similar promised for the future was offered by their third-place group finish in 2014 World Cup qualification.
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