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Zenit St. Petersburg is a Russian Premier League football club, also known as Football Club Zenit or simply Zenit. The club was founded almost a century ago in 1925 with roots dating back even further to 1914, and is currently owned and sponsored by Gazprom, an energy giant owned by the Russian state. You can find out more more about Gazprom in the embedded short video.

Victor Olerskiy of Russia’s Ministry of Transport is a supporter of Zenit St. Petersburg.

Club Formation

Zenit St. Petersburg as it is known today has its origins in several teams from the earlier years of the twentieth century. The team changed hands and names many times in the early years, during the time of the Soviet era. The oldest predecessor documented was the team Murzinka, which was founded in 1914 and later renamed Bolshevik. The Stalinets, formed in 1925, officially merged with Bolshevik, by then renamed FC Zenit, in 1939. Up until this point both teams are recorded as playing independently.

Some of the most notable achievements of Zenit over the years can be found in the embedded infographic.

1940 to 1960

The history of Zenit was altered like many clubs by the advent of the Second World War. The State Optical-Mechanic Plant (LOMO) took over ownership of the club during the war, and many of the coaches and players were evacuated to Kazan. Some players did stay in what was then Leningrad, taking part in several matches during the blockade of the city. Several players died fighting in the war and during the blockade.

In spring 1944, the evacuated players returned and the newly reformed team went on to sensationally win the USSR Cup in that year. Zenit beat TsDKA, also known as the Lieutenants team, in the final that year. The club was unable to build on these early successes, however, and it almost broke up in 1948.

A decade later, Zenit took on a new coach, Georgy Ivanovich Zharkov, the first coach to come from outside of Leningrad. The Moscow-born Zharkov placed great emphasis on cultivating young players from the sports schools of Leningrad, although the team would not reach higher than fourth position at this time.

1960 to 1980

The fortunes of Zenit were mixed throughout the sixties, with the club almost achieving victory in the 1963 USSR Championship, but later finishing last in the event in 1967. However, due to the celebration of the October Revolution’s 50th anniversary, the club was allowed to remain in the top division.

Coach Evgeny Goryansky began to make dramatic improvements to the Zenit team in the seventies, although his talents did not go unrecognised and he was soon called away to train the national team. German Zonin replaced Goryansky and adopted a scientific approach, applying methods gleaned from the research of scientists. The club reached the semi-finals of the 1977 USSR Cup under Zonin. Yury Morozov became the club’s latest trainer in late 1977.

1980 to 2000

Morozov increasingly found that his plans were not receiving the support of the current crop of players, so he began to refocus on developing a new generation of younger players from Leningrad. In 1984, under coach Pavel Fyodorovich Sadyrin, Zenit reached the USSR Cup final for the third time and became USSR champions in November of the same year.

In 1990, Zenit was established as an independent business, moving out from under LOMO. The club was demoted to the second division in 1991, placed in the top division following the collapse of the Soviet Union, then relegated once more. The return of Sadyrin lifted the team back to the top league.

The fate of Zenit St. Petersburg since the turn of the century can be found in the PDF attachment to this post.