Football Club Zenit also called Zenit Saint Petersburg is a football club from Russia, founded in 1925. However, some Russian sources claim that the club was established in 1914. Today, the club is the part of the Russian Premier League. The club is a regular winner of their Premier League in the past several years, and it is also the winner of both the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Super Cup in the season2007–2008.
Ever since the team was purchased by Gazprom in December 2005, the club brings prominent football names to the club and records victories and success. This is not odd since Gazprom invested over $100 million, for new players and also the new stadium. Some of the most popular world´s players have made their careers in FC Zenit such as Hulk, Axel Witsel, Andrey Arshavin, Martin Škrtel and many others. This club also has strong partnership relations with clubs such as Shakhtar Donetsk, Schalke 04, Red Star Belgrade and PAOK.
The original Zenit team developed from several football teams, which constantly changed names and owners during the Soviet era after the Revolution of 1917. That is probably the reason why it is considered that the team has a longer history than the one recorded. The sources show that their oldest predecessor was the team Muruinka which was founded in 1914. However, the team was always a part of as powerful political forces which not only manipulated the careers of individual players, but also the fate of the entire team.
Their first honors Zenit won in 1944, by claiming the USSR Cup after defeating CSKA Moscow. The club was always extremely popular in Leningrad, but it was never able to make a significant mark in the Soviet League. 1967 was a year when Zenit was almost threatened to leave the league since it finished last. However, it was saved from relegation because of the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution. The Soviet leadership thought that it would be inconvenient to relegate them because of the significance of Leningrad in political aspects.
However, most notable results Zenit made when it was bought by one of the greatest Russian companies, which holds the world’s largest natural gas reserves. In the Gazprom era, the club changed several football experts on the bench such as Dick Advocaat, Luciano Spaletti, André Villas-Boas and most recently Mircea Lucescu.
In 2006 they managed to reach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup which was their beginning of good results on the European stage. A year later they won the Russian Premier League which was their best achievement since 1984. This way the team made it to the 2008-2009 Champions League group stage. In 2008, they won the Russian Super Cup and reached the UEFA Cup quarter-finals for the second time in their history. During that season the club managed to get to the UEFA Cup Final for the first time which they won against Rangers in Manchester. Furthermore, the club was honored to play in the 2008 UEFA Super Cup, in which they have defeated Manchester United for becoming the first Russian team to win the trophy. However, in the season 2008-2009 Zenit could not go through the Champions League “group of death” with Juventus, Real Madrid, and BATE Borisov.
In the following years, under Spalletti´s lead, the Russian team was not particularly successful in the Champions League, which resulted in a search for the new coach. The only title they have achieved during Spalletti´s lead was the Matchworld Cup in the UAE in 2012. In the 2014–2015 Europa League, Zenit was eliminated in the quarter-finals, but at the end of that season, thy won the Russian Championship, which was the first championship title under Villas-Boas and also the team’s fifth Russian Championship title. André Villas-Boas announced that he would be leaving the team at the end of the season 2015-2016.
Today, the team is lead by Mircea Lucescu who came from Shakhtar Donetsk and who led Zenit to the victory in Russian Super Cup 2016. However, the team was not successful in Europe leaving the Europa League after the group stage with Maccabi Tel-Aviv, AZ Alkmaar, and Dundalk.