Name: Espérance Sportive de Tunis
City: Tunis, Tunisia
Founded: 15 January 1919
Based in the capital city of Tunis, Esperance ST are one of Tunisia’s most venerable and decorated football clubs. What is more, with eight league titles in the last ten years, they are proof that age is no barrier to success.
Birth of an institution
The official announcement that the first club to be founded and run by Tunisians - without assistance from French colonists - came on 15 January 1919. This was the culmination of a year-long struggle by 21-year-old Mohamed Zouaoui, who had worked tirelessly to obtain the necessary permits and licenses.
At that time the law required that the president of any new club seeking registration must be a French national, and Zouaoui was able to persuade a certain Louis Montassier to take up the position. The club’s name, Esperance, was borrowed from the café where Zouaoui met with his fellow founders, foremost among whom was Hedi Kallel, who assembled the petitions of support required to initiate the process.
In their first season, Esperance played in white and green, but the very next year their strip changed to the famous ‘blood and gold,’ the red and yellow that its players wear to this day.
In 1936 Esperance entered Tunisia’s Ligue 1, then called the Division d’Honneur, where they have remained for the subsequent 74 years. It was another three years before they claimed their first piece of silverware, winning the President’s Cup in 1939, with the league title following in 1941. The next milestone proved more elusive. Indeed, it was not until 1989 - 70 years after the club’s foundation - that Esperance finally came away with the league-cup double.
The making of a legend
Africa has also been a happy hunting ground for the Tunisians, especially during the 1990s. The club beat Egyptian giants Zamalek 3-1 over two legs to take the 1994 CAF Champions League title, a triumph they followed with a 3-0 victory over DR Congo’s Daring Club Motema Pembe in the 1995 CAF Super Cup final and victory in the 1998 CAF Cup Winners’ Cup.
Since then, the club has claimed less silverware but been more consistent, reaching the semi-finals or final of the CAF Champions League six times since 1999. This string of performances, together with their recent dominance of local competitions, has contributed to a formidable reputation both at home and abroad.
Eight league titles, three President’s Cups and a Tunisian Super Cup - Esperance’s record over the last decade speaks for itself and appears largely immune to major changes in personnel. Coach Nabil Maaloul was only appointed in 2010, for instance, and yet 2011 has seen the side claim their third league trophy on the trot plus a President’s Cup to clinch the double.
In Africa, Esperance are currently playing in the group stages of the 2011 Champions League against Group B opponents Wydad Casablanca, Al Ahly and MC Alger. Their three draws and a single victory gives them six points, the same as Wydad Casablanca, but the Moroccan club are ahead on goal difference.
The El Menzah Olympic Stadium in Tunis was finished in 1967 and holds some 45,000 spectators. The official ground of Esperance, it is also serves as the home for other clubs such as Tunis’ Club Africaine.
25 Tunisian championships: 1942, 1959, 1960, 1970, 1975, 1976, 1982, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
14 Tunisian Cups: 1939, 1957, 1964, 1979, 1980, 1986, 1989, 1991, 1997, 1999, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011
2 Tunisian Super Cups: 1993, 2001
2 CAF Champions Leagues: 1994, 2011
1 African Cup Winners' Cup: 1998
1 CAF Super Cup: 1995
1 CAF Cup: 1997
*The honours listed above are considered to be the club’s major titles and, as such, are not intended to be a full list of achievements.
Hicham Aboucheraouane, Michael Eneramo, Khaled Badra, Tarek Dhiab, Radhi Jaidi, Nabil Maaloul, Tarek Thabet, Ali Zitouni, Ossama Darragi