GNK Dinamo Zagreb (commonly referred to as Dinamo) is the biggest football club in Zagreb, and the most successful Croatian football club as well (76th in Europe). Dinamo won 18 Prva HNL (the top division of Croatian football system) titles, 14 Croatian Football Cups and four Croatian Football Super Cups.
The “GNK” part of the name has posed some problems because the founding date of the club is problematic due to it changing names throughout history: it was founded as HŠK Građanski (First Croatian Citizens’ Sports Club) in 1911, as a distinctly Croatian club, first within the Austro-Hungarian Empire and then within the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. However, in the aftermath of World War II in 1945, the club was disbanded by the new communist government because it was seen as nationalist.
Shortly after that, Dinamo Zagreb was established, taking over Građanski’s colours, and later even the emblem. Many Građanski players continued playing at Dinamo, so the fan base remained the same as well. The club was fairly successful and won various trophies within the Yugoslav League.
In 1991, after the breakup of Yugoslavia, Dinamo left the Yugoslav League and, even though 1945 had previously been considered the club’s foundation year, the club now wanted to reflect its connection to Građanski, so it was renamed HAŠK Građanski in June 1991.
It was renamed Croatia Zagreb in February 1993, and then went back to Dinamo Zagreb in February 2000. In 2011, the topic of 1911 and connection to Građanski came up again, so the adjective građanski was added, making it today’s GNK (Građanski nogometni klub) Dinamo or “Citizens’ Football Club Dinamo”.
Nicknamed “the boys in blue” (Modri) because of the colour of their jerseys, Dinamo has 10 consecutive titles in Croatia, and they played four times the Champions League, as well as many times in the UEFA Cup / Europa league.
Dinamo’s stadium is called Maksimir and has a capacity of around 35,100. It was opened in 1911, but it got its present day look during the extensive renovations works in 1997/1998. Maksimir is also the place where the Croatian national team plays home games.
NK Zagreb (commonly referred to as Zagreb) is the local rival of Dinamo. The club is nicknamed “the Whites” (Bijeli) because they wear white jerseys, and “the Poets” (Pjesnici) because the club’s stadium is located in Kranjčevićeva ulica, named after Silvije Strahimir Kranjčević, a great Croatian poet.
In 1903 PNIŠK (Prvi nogometni i športski klub, i.e. First Football and Sports Club)was founded, and some sources say that this is NK Zagreb’s ancestor, but the club’s official webpage states that their founding year is 1919, when a club with the same name was founded, and its home ground was near today’s stadium.
Later there was Fiskulturno društvo Zagreb (Zagreb Sports Society), whose football section evolved into what is today NK Zagreb. Even though the club played several seasons in the top division, since the 1950s it’s been somewhat overshadowed by its rival, Dinamo.
It’s worth mentioning that an impressive match took place in 1973 between NK Zagreb and NK Osijek. It was the second qualifying match, and it was played in Maksimir because both clubs’ stadiums were too small to fit 64,138 fans, which is the stadium record and it still stands.
NK Zagreb has won the Croatian Football Championship once, in season 2001/02, which was also the only time that the Croatian champion was not Dinamo Zagreb or Hajduk Split. The club participated in European championships several times as well.
The club’s stadium is in Kranjčevićeva ulica and its capacity is 8,850.
Since 1991, the club’s ultras group has been “White Angels” (Bijeli Anđeli)