On 7 June 1947, at the initiative of several officers of the Romanian Royal House, the first Romanian sports club of the Army was born through a decree signed by General Mihail Lascăr, High Commander of the Romanian Royal Army. The club was to be called ASA București (Asociația Sportivă a Armatei București – English: Army Sports Association), with seven different sections (football, fencing, volleyball, boxing, shooting, athletics, tennis), and its leadership was entrusted to General-Major Oreste Alexandrescu. The decision had been adopted on the ground that several officers were already playing for different teams, which was premise to a good nucleus for forming a future competitive team. With this squad, Coloman Braun-Bogdan, the first coach in the club's history, went to a sustained training camp in the mountain resort of Sinaia. Although shirts, boots and balls were missing, atmosphere inside the team was rather optimistic. Thanks to sustained efforts, in the shortest time possible, the club soon acquired the first training suits, navy green, duck material of, and the first shirts, blue. The big surprise, however, were the 40 pairs of boots the club had purchased for the 20 selected players.
With a squad gathered in record time, ASA was preparing itself for the Romanian second league promotion play-offs. However, the new Communist government that had come to power in 1945 and assumed total control of the country at the end of 1947 stated that every sports association in the country was now to be linked to a certain trade union, be it a State Department, a Ministry or a company. However, this was not the case for first league club, Carmen București, owned by wealthy industrialist Dumitru Mociorniță, who saw his team excluded from the championship and later on dissolved, its place in the 1st league being now taken by newly formed ASA.
The team's first official competition was the 1947-48 Romanian Football Championship season, in which they finished 14th. Their first official match was played in Bucharest against Dermata Cluj and ended 0-0. The team managed to avoid relegation after a play-out with seven other teams.
On 5 June 1948, by Order 289 of the Ministry of National Defence, ASA became CSCA (Clubul Sportiv Central al Armatei – English: Central Sports Club of the Army), after which performances began to roll.
In 1949, CSCA won its first trophy in history, the Romanian Cup, after defeating CSU Cluj 2–1 in the final. Because of the championship's switch to a Soviet-inspired spring-fall system, which lasted from 1950 to 1956, CSCA played that fall in an unofficial competition called "The Autumn Cup", held in six different groups, without a final tournament, winning one of them.
In March 1950, CSCA changed its name to CCA (Casa Centrală a Armatei, English: "Central House of the Army").
Under the new name, the club would enter the high-life of Romanian football by winning their first Championship-Cup Double in 1951, just shortly after conquering their second national cup one year earlier after trailing 3–1 past Flamura Roșie Arad. The first title was achieved on goal average (which was then used as a second criterion instead of goal difference), while the cup by disposing 3–1 of Flacăra Mediaș in the final. Two subsequent titles followed consecutively after that year and another one in 1956. The team also won the Romanian Cup in 1952 (2–0 v Flacăra Ploiești) and 1955 (6–3 v Progresul Oradea).
The 1950s were years of great domestic performances, ones in which the famous "CCA Golden Team" crystallized itself, a team which sometimes confused itself with the National Team of Romania itself, with players such as goalkeeper Ion Voinescu, defenders Vasile Zavoda and Alexandru Apolzan, midfielders Ștefan Onisie and Tiberiu Bone or strikers Gheorghe Cacoveanu, Gheorghe Constantin, Ion Alecsandrescu, Francisc Zavoda, Iosif Petschovsky and Nicolae Tătaru directed by Technical Consultant Virgil Economu and coaches Ilie Savu and Ștefan Dobay. 1956 was one of CCA's most prestigious years, when, apart from winning the title, the team enterprised a tournament in England where they beat Luton Town FC 4–3 (whom they had already defeated 5–1 in a friendly in Bucharest one year earlier), drew against Arsenal FC 1–1 and Sheffield Wednesday FC 3–3 and lost 5–0 in front of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC. Also, on 22 April 1956, the Romanian national team beat Yugoslavia 1–0 in Belgrade with a team comprised only by CCA players.
1957 was the year Romania switched back to the fall-spring system and in whose spring CCA took part in the Danube Cup (former Mitropa Cup), being knocked out by MTK Budapest in the first round. That year, the team also made their first European Cup appearance, outpassed by BV Borussia Dortmund in the European Champions Cup after a 3rd match play-off in Bologna.
In 1961, after having won the previous two national titles, CCA changed names once again (for the final time) to CSA Steaua București (Clubul Sportiv al Armatei Steaua – English: Army Sports Club Steaua). The name Steaua is Romanian for The Star and was adopted because of the presence, just like in any other Eastern-European Army team, of a red star (turned yellow now, to symbolize Romania's tri-colour red, yellow and blue flag) on their badge.
In the late 1960s, Ștefan Covaci was hired as manager of the club. During his first season in charge he won the Romanian League in 1967–68 and three national cups in 1969, 1970 and 1971, before leaving to coach Johan Cruyff's AFC Ajax in 1971.
In 1972, Steaua achieved also the quarter-finals of European Cup Winners' Cup defeating FC Barcelona, but lost against Franz Beckenbauer's FC Bayern Munich 1–1 on away goals.
On 9 April 1974, Steaua's current home, Stadionul Ghencea, was inaugurated with a friendly match opposing OFK Beograd that ended 2–2. The arena was something new for Post-War Romania, as it was built especially for football, with a capacity of 30,000 and with no athletics track. Up to that date, Steaua had played its home matches on either two of Bucharest's largest stadiums, Republicii and 23 August.
Internally, fierce rivalry with teams like Dinamo București, Petrolul Ploiești and UTA Arad made it more and more difficult for the military team to reach the title, the 1970s and 1980s seeing them win the title only three times under their new name (1967–68, 1975–76, 1977–78). However, during that same period, Steaua won eight National Cups (1961–62, 1965–66, 1966–67, 1968–69, 1969–70, 1970–71, 1975–76 and 1978–79), ultimately being nicknamed the cup specialists.
The first half of the 1980s was a very poor period for the club, as no trophies were won for six years. However, several prodigies were transferred, such as Helmuth Duckadam, Ștefan Iovan, Miodrag Belodedici, Marius Lăcătuș, Victor Pițurcă, Mihail Majearu, Gavril Balint and Adrian Bumbescu, who would set the basis for the future team. However, these years of search and frustration did no less than to foretell the amazing performances of the 1980s and 1990s.
Under the leadership of coaches Emerich Jenei and Anghel Iordănescu, Steaua had an impressive Championship run in the 1984–85 season, which they eventually won after a six-year break. What followed was an absolutely astonishing European Cup season. After knocking-out Vejle BK, Honved FC, Kuusysi Lahti FC and RSC Anderlecht, they were the first ever Romanian team to make it into a European Cup final. On 1986 European Cup Final, 7 May 1986, at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in Seville, Spanish champions FC Barcelona were clear favourites, but after a goalless draw, legendary goalkeeper Helmuth Duckadam saved all four penalties taken by the Spaniards being the first ever Romanian to reach the Guinness Book for that matter, while Gavril Balint and Marius Lăcătuș converted theirs to make Steaua the first Eastern-European team to conquer the supreme continental trophy.
Gheorghe Hagi, Romanian all-time best footballer, joined the club a few months later, scoring the only goal of the match against Dinamo Kiev which brought Steaua an additional European Super Cup on 24 February 1987 in Monaco, just two months after having lost the Intercontinental Cup 1–0 to Argentinians River Plate in Tokyo. However, that game was marred with a questionable decision by referee José Martínez when he disallowed a clear goal scored by Miodrag Belodedici.
Surprisingly for those who thought of these performances as an isolated phenomenon, Steaua remained at the top of European football for the rest of the decade, managing one more European Cup semifinal against S.L. Benfica (1987–88) and one more European Cup final in 1989, which was lost 4–0 in front of Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard's AC Milan. This happened next to their four additional national titles (1985–86, 1986–87, 1987–88, 1988–89) and four national cups (1984–85, 1986–87, 1987–88, 1988–89). In addition, from June 1986 to September 1989, Steaua ran a record 104-match undefeated streak in the championship, setting a world record for that time and a European one still standing.
During these last years of the Communist regime in Romania, dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu's son Valentin was involved in the life of the team. Valentin Ceaușescu admitted in a recent interview that he had done nothing else than to protect his favourite team from Dinamo's sphere of influence, ensured by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Though contested by some, their five-year winning streak in the championship between 1984–85 and 1988-89 corroborates the notion that the team was really the best during this period.
The Romanian Revolution led the country towards a free open market and, subsequently, several players of the great 1980s team left for other clubs in the West. Gheorghe Hagi went to Real Madrid CF for a record $4,300,000 fee which stands up to this day for the national championship, Marius Lăcătuș to AC Fiorentina, Dan Petrescu to Foggia Calcio, Silviu Lung to CD Logrones, Ștefan Iovan to Brighton & Hove Albion FC, Tudorel Stoica to RC Lens and so on.
Therefore, three years followed in which the club won only a national cup in the 1991-92 season. However, a swift recovery followed and Steaua managed a six consecutive championship streak between 1992–93 and 1997-98 to equalize the 1920s performance of Chinezul Timișoara and also three more cups in 1995–96, 1996–97 and 1998–99. Other records highly regarded by the fans were the eight year and six month long undefeatead streak in front of arch-rivals FC Dinamo București, which counted 19 matches in both the championship and the Romanian Cup, and the 17 year and 7 month long undefeated league run at Ghencea against the same Dinamo.
At international level, the club managed to reach the Cup Winners' Cup quarter-finals in 1993, when they lost on away goals to Royal Antwerp FC, and also to make it to the UEFA Champions League group stage three years in a row between 1994–95 and 1996-97.
In 1998, following lobbying from the football department president, Marcel Pușcaș, and new LPF regulations, the football club separated from CSA Steaua and changed their name for the last time to FC Steaua București (Fotbal Club Steaua București), being led by Romanian businessman Viorel Păunescu.
Viorel Păunescu performed poorly as a president and soon the club was plunged into debt. Despite the title won in 2000–01, George "Gigi" Becali, another businessman, was offered the position of vice-president, in hope that he would invest money in the club. Becali eventually purchased 51% of the club's shares in February 2002 and turned the governing company into SA (Romanian equivalent for PLC) in January 2003. Later that year he bought another 14% of the shares and things moved in the same directions so that today he is the legal owner of the club even though officially he transferred his shares to some of his nephews. Even though contested by many, including the majority of Steaua fans, because of his controversial character which saw him turn to politics further on, Becali has so far had inspired management plans for the club, also aided by former Chief Executive Mihai Stoica. Currently, George Becali retains no official link to the club, as he gradually renounced his shares. However, the facts that the current shareholders are people loyal to him and that he is still in charge of Steaua are obvious.
In the summer of 2004, following a third consecutive year with no trophy won, former Italian glory Walter Zenga was appointed as head coach, becoming the first ever foreign Steaua manager. Following the appointment, results came immediately, as the team qualified for the UEFA Cup group stage and further on became the first Romanian team to make it to the European football spring since 1993 (also Steaua's performance), where they outpassed holders Valencia CF after a penalty shoot-out at Ghencea. Zenga was sacked with three matchdays to go in the Divizia A, but Steaua eventually won the title, performance repeated the following year, when, under coaches Oleh Protasov (August – December) and Cosmin Olăroiu (March 2006 – May 2007), they also managed to make it to the UEFA Cup Semifinals (knocked out dramatically by Middlesbrough F.C.'s late goal in the 89th minute after having eliminated local rivals FC Rapid București in an all-Romanian quarterfinal) and to win the Romanian Supercup (1–0 against the same Rapid București in July 2006), the latter being the club's 50th trophy in its 59-year history.
In the next season, after having successfully passed two qualifying rounds against ND Gorica and Standard Liège, Steaua reached the group stage of the 2006–07 UEFA Champions League, where they ended third in Group E, behind Olympique Lyonnais (0–3 home, 1–1 away) and Real Madrid C.F. (1–4 home, 0–1 away) and in front of FC Dynamo Kyiv (1–1 home, 4–1 away). Their continuation in the UEFA Cup was short however, having been outpassed by holders Sevilla FC in the round of 32.
Internally, even though ranked second during the winter break, they lost contact with leader FC Dinamo București, who built a massive point advance in front to win the title. Steaua still entered the second UEFA Champions League qualifying round as league runners-up. Steaua also qualified for the semifinals of the Romanian Cup, a trophy not seen at Ghencea since 1999, where they were defeated by FCU Politehnica Timișoara. In the Champions League, they passed Zagłębie Lubin (1–0 away and 2–1 home) and BATE Borisov (2-2 away and 2-0 home), and reached the group stage, where they played against Arsenal F.C., Sevilla, and Sparta Prague. Their performance was sub-par however, finishing last with 1 point.
The 2008-09 UEFA Champions League season saw them advance to the group stage after defeating Galatasaray S.K. (2–2 away and 1–0 home), only to finish again last with 1 point, after FC Bayern Munich, Olympique Lyonnais, and ACF Fiorentina.
ASA București was founded by the Royal Army on 7 June 1947, during that time the club had no official crest. In their first season, ASA wore blue shirts, red shorts and yellow socks, to symbolize Romania's tri-colour flag.
As communists assumed total control of the country on 30 December 1947, the Royal Army was transformed into the People's Army and ASA automatically with it. Being inspired by the Red Army, the new Ministry of Defence decided to create a crest for the club, along with the change of name to CSCA, consisting in an A-labeled red star (symbol of the Red Army) on a blue disc. Also, the yellow was gradually given up, so that the official remained, up to this day, the red and the blue.
Two years later, the change of name to CCA brought with it a new crest consisting of the same red star labeled CCA surrounded by a crown of laurel. The all-present star motif on the crest finally had its saying over the new name of Steaua as up 1961. It was opted for a badge which, redesigned, remains up to this day the club's symbol: the red and blue striped background with a golden star in the middle, to symbolize to Romanian tri-colour flag. The shape for the emblem which Steaua has now was redesigned in 1974, loosely inspired by that of FC Barcelona, once the team moved to Ghencea Stadium.
Following the 1989 revolution, the Army decided to break all links to the defunct communist regime, so in 1991 CSA Steaua had a last change of crest with an eagle also present on the Ministry of Defence coat of arms and also on Romania's. As FC Steaua appeared in 1998, the club added two yellow stars on top of the CSA Steaua badge signifying its 20 titles of champion won, along with the 'Fotbal Club' specification.
2003 was the year of the last change of crest, decided by the new Board of Administration run by George Becali, which was a return to the old badge of 1974-1991, redesigned with the two yellow stars on top.asf
1. ^ On 2012–13 season Steaua makes a charity's to Mihai Neșu Foundation in order to display the logo on the club's kit against Ekranas, Ajax and Chelsea in Europa League.
2. ^ From 17 March 2013 to July 2013.