FC Kvarner was founded
At the end of July, during an informal meeting in a buffet in Split on today’s Baričićeva street, Edo Radetti, Renato Tich, Ettore Mazzieri and Drago Harapin had the idea of establishing a strong football club in Rijeka. A few days later, at the headquarters of the then SOFK (Federation of Associations for Physical Education), their idea was launched. The club was named ‘Kvarner’, at Ettore Mazzzieri’s suggestion. On August 1, Kvarner played their first official match and beat Hajduk (2:0) in front of 6,000 spectators. The first goal in the history of Kvarner was scored by Petronio in the third minute, and the second by Nori in the 40th minute. Rijeka’s team was composed of: Gardašanić, Tibljaš, Blasich, Pavanello, Macorin, Bertok, Nori, Laurencich, Burattini, Petronio, Cergnar.
Kvarner became Rijeka
At the extraordinary general meeting of the Club in the completely filled hall of Transjug, at the initiative of the President of the Club Dr. Zdravko Kučić and a sports worker Milan Blažević, along with Mario Spiler and Branko Vukšić, Footbal Club Kvarner changed its name into the Croatian Football Club Rijeka.
The first comeback to the First Division
After 12 years, Rijeka advanced to the First Division again. In the last match of the championship, Rijeka won against Napredak by 6:2 (Gereš 3, Medle 2, Osojnak) in front of the record number of spectators (17,000). The standard team then consisted of: Ravnić, Đorić, Mihovilović, Demić, Pavković, Dunaj, Gereš, Radaković, Naumović, Medle, Osojnak.
Vladimir Lukarić as the first player on the national team
Vladimir Lukarić was the first CFC Rijeka player who played for the national team. On June 18, 1961, he made his debut for the Yugoslav national team in a match against Morocco. In the same match, but in the second half, another player of Rijeka joined the match. It was Pero Radaković who, one year later, scored the winning goal in the quarterfinals against Germany.
Rijeka relegated to the Second Division
The 1968/69 season was marked by a management crisis and the bad performance of Rijeka in the Yugoslav First League. Rijeka ended up in the next-to-last place with only 23 points (just like the last-placed Proleter) and was relegated to the Second Division.
Re-advancing to the First Division
After two unsuccessful attempts, Rijeka’s football players advanced to the First Division for the second time. In the Second Division, they ended up in the first place with 47 points (18 wins, 11 draws and 5 losses, 44:21). Since 1974, Rijeka is continuously in the First Division. Twenty thousand spectators celebrated Rijeka’s victory over Novi Sad (4:1) at Kantrida.
Winning the first Yugoslav Cup
The outstanding team led by Coach Dragutin Spasojević defeated Trepča in the final match at Crvena zvezda (Red Star) stadium in Belgrade. In the first minute of the first overtime, Milan Radović scored and won the first big trophy in their history. The supporters of Rijeka turned their celebration into a slogan: “The trophy is ours!” (Važ je naš!). The next day, 15,000 Rijeka supporters celebrated with the winners at the Republic Square.
Winning of the Balkans Cup
Spasojević’s ‘vindicatory expedition’ conquered the eastern part of Europe and won the first international trophy. They won the first place in the group, beating Greek Aris and Albanian Skenderbeu. In the finals, they beat Romanian Jiul in two matches (0:1 away, 4:1 at home). On 14 December 1978, the home win was crowned by Tomić and Desnica who scored two goals each.
The Second Yugoslav Cup
In 1979, the footballers of Rijeka celebrated in Belgrade again. After a year of keeping the Yugoslav Cup trophy in the storage cabinets of Rijeka, it was returned to Kantrida again. Under the leadership of the coach Marijan Brnčić, in the first match at Kantrida, Rijeka beat Partizan 2:1, and the second match ended with no goals.
The victory against Real Madrid
In the first match of the second round of the UEFA cup, the great Real Madrid was defeated (3:1). Rijeka was vanquished only after the scandalous referee’s theft in the second match (3:0). That year, Rijeka fought for the championship title until the last round. They won the fourth place with two points (one win) less than the champion Crvena zvezda (Red Star).
The defeat in the finals of the Cup
In the third Belgrade finals of the Cup, Rijeka players had no luck in the match against Hajduk. After 120 minutes of the game (1:1), in a series of penalties, the players from Split were more successful (10:9). The next day, their many fans greeted them below the terrace of the hotel Bonavia, just like they did after the previous two wins.
The Indoor Soccer Champion Title
In the period of Croatia, Rijeka players had a gloomy autumn, finishing the first part of the championship modestly in sixth place. However, they shone during the winter indoor soccer championship in Zagreb. In December 1993, they marched through Dom sportova winning against the favoured Zagreb’s Uspinjača with a score of 6:3. Mladen Mladenović was the best player and Fuad Šašivarević (7 scores) was the best shooter of the tournament.
The defeat in the finals of the Cup
The players of Croatia were better than Rijeka in the two final matches. In the first match, ‘the Blue’ celebrated a win with a 2:0 score. Horvat was given the red card with justification, but not the players of Croatia – Cvitanović and Gašpar. In the second match at Kantrida, ‘the Whites’ were not able to capitalize on their early leadership (Pavličić, 3’) so ‘Rabuzin’s Sun’ (the Croatian Cup) went to Zagreb, despite the fact that Rijeka won (1:0).
The stolen championship
In the last round against Osijek (May 26), in front of a record number of spectators (25,000), Rijeka needed to win in order to win a championship title. In the very last minutes of the match, Admir Hasančić scored and achieved the winning result of 2:1, and the assistant referee Krečak from Šibenik called an offside. Ten years later, it was proven that Hasančić’s score was valid. For the first time, Rijeka was the vice-champion and, for the first time, they qualified for the Champions League.
The first Croatian Cup
‘Rabuzin’s sun’ was shining above Kantrida. After 26 years, Rijeka players brought their first trophy to the trophy cabinets of Kantrida, under the guidance of Coach Elvis Scoria. ‘The Whites’ were more successful than Hajduk in the two final matches. The score at Kantrida was 2:1 (Mitu, Erceg), and 1:0 in Split (Mitu). The next day, tens of thousands of supporters celebrated winning of the Cup.
The second Croatian Cup
The second Cup in a row was won under the leadership of Dragan Skočić in the match against the players of Varteks. In the first match at Kantrida, Rijeka players celebrated with a score of 4:0 (Vugrinec 2, Bobic, Linić). No one could even imagine that in the second match in Varaždin the drama would unfold. Varaždin players won with a score of 5:1, but the trophy went to Rijeka again.
CFC Rijeka as a sports join-stock company
Back in 2010, CFC Rijeka started the process of transforming into a sports joint-stock company. In February 2012, the Social Sport Foundation signed an agreement to invest in the Club, and a month later Damir Mišković became the Chairman of CFC Rijeka. The process of transformation was finished in September 2013 when Social Sport took over 70 percent of the ownership of CFC Rijeka, while the remaining 30 percent remained in the hands of the City of Rijeka.
The performance in the Europa League
After winning third place in the championship, CFC Rijeka qualified for the Europa League. After their victory against Prestatyn Town, Žilina, and Stuttgart, Rijeka players for the first time in the Club’s history qualified for the Europa League where they played against Vittoria Guimaraes, Betis, and Lyon.
The year of historic successes
The year 2014 will be remembered as one of the most successful years in the history of the Club. Rijeka players won the second place in the HNL; they were better than Dinamo in two matches in the finals of the Cup (1:0, 2:0); and they won the Croatian Supercup in a match against the same opponent (2:0). CFC Rijeka was again a participant in the competitions of UEFA Europa League, thanks to the victories in the qualifications against Ferencvárosi, Vikingur and Sheriff. In Group G, Rijeka played against Standard Liege, Seville and Feyenoord, against which they achieved their first victory in this competition. Seven Rijeka team members played in a friendly match between the Croatian national team and Argentina (Vargić, Tomečak, Lešković, Mitrović, Leovac, Jajalo, Sharbini). In 2014, Močinić, Maleš and Kramarić also played for the national team.
HNK Rijeka training camp is now open
A long-time dream has become a reality. On 29 July 2015, Croatian Football Club Rijeka officially opened the doors of its new camp, a day that many generations of Rijeka citizens have been impatiently waiting for. After ten months of work, the new camp opened its doors to the fans who got a chance to see the new home of HNK Rijeka. Everyone who loves Rijeka had their hearts full; fans, football players and the general public could not wait to see the new complex.
A ball rolled through the main field of the HNK Rijeka stadium and the Morettos had the honour of being the first to run onto the field; the youngest generation which was lucky enough to welcome such an edifice to their city and their club. Pioneers, cadets, juniors, and the first squad followed.
HNK Rijeka – champions of the fall
2016. will remain written in gold in the history books of HNK Rijeka football. Rijeka ended the first half of the 2016/2017 season undefeated, a feat which only the great Real Madrid managed to match. Matjaž Kek’s selectees had 19 wins and six draws in 25 matches. Rijeka finished the calendar year with no losses in 32 matches.
In the first round of the championship, Rijeka finished with 16 wins and four draws, 52 points won, i.e. 86.7% of all possible points. During that period, Rijeka had the best attack (39 goals) and the best defence in the league (eight goals against). Matjaž Kek’s strikers scored six more goals than Hajduk’s (33), while the defence was the only one that allowed a single-digit number of goals.