Modern football is a business all of its own, but back when the game was just a pastime, some of today’s biggest clubs grew from teams of work-mates into champions. FIFA.com looks at some of those sides.
It’s hard to imagine that some of the game’s most recognisable sides blossomed from seeds sewn by just a small group of colleagues decades ago, but one side who clearly wears its roots on its sleeve are PSV.
Philips Sports Vereniging formed in 1913, commemorating the centenary of Dutch independence, as a team for the workers at electronics giants Philips. Created by company founders Gerard and Anton Philips, the club entered the Dutch league two years after being formed and made it into the top flight in 1925, winning the title four years later and never being relegated.
A further 20 championship wins have followed, as well as nine KNVB Beker trophies - the latest coming this year. They have also triumphed on the continent, claiming the European Cup in 1988, beating Benfica on penalties, and the UEFA Cup in 1978 as part of a treble-winning season.
Bayer Leverkusen are another side whose roots can be seen clearly in their name. The pharmaceutical giants have had a side associated with them ever since a letter sent to the board of directors at Friedrich Bayer & Co by 170 employees requesting a gymnastics and sports club in 1903.
Four years later a football club was in place and at Christmas in 1907 they were gifted a crest by the company, containing the Bayer lion which still adorns it today. They would have to wait 80 years until their first taste of a major trophy, though.
Their humble beginnings led to UEFA Cup glory in 1988, a win in the DFB-Pokal five years later and a host of silver medals, none bigger than the UEFA Champions League – losing 2-1 to Real Madrid in 2002.
The road to glory
Fellow German side Wolfsburg have a history intrinsically linked to a global giant in the world of industry. The city was developed to house the workers at the Volkswagen factory, so it’s no surprise that the football club is linked to it as well.
They’ve since grown into a Bundesliga ever-present since the turn of the millennium, winning promotion in 1997, and have not looked back since. Playing their home games at the Volkswagen Arena, they have gone on to claim their first piece of professional silverware in 2009 by winning the Bundesliga.
Car firms have had their links to clubs elsewhere in the world. Sochaux of France has grown out of a project by Jean-Pierre Peugeot, who wanted something to occupy his workers’ free time. Established in 1928, they very quickly became the country’s first professional club and one of the founding members of the French Division 1 in 1932.
Graced by the likes of three-time FIFA World Cup™ France international Etienne Mattler, they won their first and only league titles in 1935 and 1938. They have since held the record for most appearances in the French top flight, featuring in 62 of 81 seasons played, and have found recent success in the Coupe de la Ligue and Coupe de France, winning in 2004 and 2007 respectively.
The trend is reflected further afield too, with five-time Japanese title-winners Yokohama F Marinos starting life as Nissan Motors FC. With six Emperor’s Cups to their name, the team changed their name after the formation of the J.League, but still play their games at the Nissan Stadium.
Modest beginnings to global giants
On the other side of transport, a number of clubs that have gone on to great things from train companies, but none more than Newton Heath Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway in England. Newton Heath LYR Football Club is a name that means something to only a few, but it spawned a team that is known throughout the world.
Initially they played against other railway teams having formed in 1878, before joining the football league in 1892, four years after it began, but struggled, losing out to Liverpool in a relegation play-off and became the first side ever to drop out of the Football League.
They then hit financial trouble in 1902, and were on the brink of folding when local businessmen saved the club. They thus renamed the club, rejecting the titles of Manchester Celtic and Manchester Central, instead deciding on Manchester United.
They were soon promoted in 1906, before winning their maiden title in 1908 and first FA Cup in 1909, where the trophies have followed consistently, accruing a whopping 41 major national, continental and international titles in the following 110 years since changing their name.
A fellow side to be born out of the train industry is Rosario Central of Argentina. They have gone on to become the most successful Argentinian team outside Buenos Aires having initially been made up of workers from the Central Argentine Railway.
On Christmas Eve 1889 an Englishman brought 70 employees together to form ‘Central Argentine Railway Club Athletic’, electing a Scotsman as president. By 1904 they opened the club to players from any walk of life, not just railway workers, and changed their name to the one they hold today – Club Atletico Rosario Central – winning four Primera Division titles since.
Soviet sporting society
The heritage of teams from Eastern Europe is often very prominent, with teams carrying the prefix of Lokomotiv, Dinamo (or Dynamo) and CSKA all originating from a work-based environment. Lokomotiv are, unsurprisingly, heralding from the railway industry, Dynamo roots from the police force while CSKA stands for Central Sports Club of the Army.
Dinamo and CSKA were part of the USSR’s universal sports initiative that begun in 1923, being part-funded by their respective government sectors, with Dynamo Kyiv becoming the most successful of these teams. They dominated the Soviet Top League from the 1960s onwards, before winning 13 of the 20 Ukrainian Premier League titles so far.
They are the record title winners across the post-war USSR nations and have been the dominant force in Ukraine since independence. This all stemmed from a side built from members of the Kyiv branch of the Soviet Secret Police, and other footballers in the city, in 1927 and has gone on to spawn national heroes such as Oleg Blokhin and Andriy Shevchenko.