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For Sturm Graz it is the third appearance at the international tournament since 2010 and 2012. The club from Austria has a secure place in the history of the tournament: Sturm Graz was able to win the Altstätten junior tournament in 2010. The City: With 287 000 inhabitants Graz is the second largest city in the Republic of Austria and in addition, it is the state capital of Styria. With a population of around 622 000 the metropolitan region of Graz is the third largest after Vienna and Linz. During the last ten years the metropolitan region of Graz was the fastest growing conurbation in Austria. The name "Graz" is derived from the word for a castle erected in the 6th century (in Alpine Slavic "Gradec" means "small castle"). Graz has developed into a university city with a student population of almost 60 000. Moreover the historic old town of Graz and Eggenberg castle have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1999 and 2010 respectively. The city lies around 150 km to the southwest of Vienna on both banks of the Mur where the river breaks through the Graz uplands to flow into the Graz basin. In spite of its proximity to Vienna the city has more in common with the Slovenian city of Maribor. The two cities are linked through the continuous development of closer cultural and economic relations. Nowadays tourism in Graz is focussed predominantly on the historic matter to do with the historic old town. At the same time the city is able to score with its southern flair; a fact emphasized by the Capital of Culture Award of 2003. Also of great importance is the role of Graz as a conference city. Currently Graz has around 5000 hotel beds in the commercial sector and approx. 1000 more in the non-commercial sector such as camping, youth hostels and B&Bs. Places of interest to see when visiting Graz include the historic old town already mentioned as well as the Schlossberg castle and surroundings. The Schlossberg castle served as a fortress from 1125 through 1809. Today it is more akin to a park. At the foot of the Schlossberg lies the crown of the city of Graz. It is one of the sights to see as are Graz cathedral and St. Catherine's Church with Mausoleum. Also well worth seeing are the bridges of Graz and city gates. Beyond the city limits, Eggenberg castle and sacred and secular buildings and museums can be visited. As a result of its convenient position in southeastern Austria Graz is an important site for national and international business. The conurbation of Graz is responsible for more than a third of the GDP of the federal state of Styria. Graz and Styria are Austria's centres of innovation and technology; every third hi-tech innovation in Austria emanates from this region. The Club: SK Sturm Graz or rather the official name Sportklub Puntigamer Sturm Graz was founded in 1909. Adding Puntigamer to the name was made because it is the name of the club's main sponsor. The Puntigamer brewery group have been main sponsors since 1996. The colours of the club from the state of Styria are black and white. In spite of the long history of the club, its greatest successes were not that long ago: The three championship title wins by Sturm Graz date back to the 1997/1998, 1998/1999 and 2010/2011 seasons. The club acquired international prominence above all through participation in the Champions League seasons 1998/99, 1999/2000 and 2000/01, in which the second group stages were reached. According to legend the storm (Sturm) believed to have dominated the club's founding day in Graz was the inspiration for the name of the new club. However the name was probably borrowed from the then famous Czech club DBC Sturm Prag who were guests in Graz on 18 and 19 April 1909. The SK's first home was the "Sturmplatz", known today as “Gruabn“. During the same period i.e. the mid 1920s, the great rivalry with the other city club GAK developed. During the early days of the club's history Sturm were eleven-time national champions; more often than any other club. The golden years in the history of the club followed only after the inauguration of the new stadium, known then as the Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadium. The stadium in Graz provides capacity for 16 300 spectators. In the 1998/99 season Sturm won the championship by a margin of 19 points over Rapid Wien. After a solid performance in the Champions League the masterful defence of the title in the Austrian Bundesliga (federal league) was achieved. In their second participation in the Champions League the men from Graz achieved the sensational qualification for the next round. They prevailed against Galatasary Istanbul, AS Monaco and Glasgow Rangers before Valencia and Manchester proved too big to handle in the group stage which followed. After years of success the sporting decline was to follow. The licence for 2005/2006 could only be obtained subject to preconditions. One year later the crisis reached its climax and was almost the end of Sturm. Under temporary president Hans Ferdl a rescue in extremis was achieved. Following the rescue Hans Rinner assumed supervision of the club and led it back into safe water. Under new manager Franco Foda (second period in office after 2003), the team was able to improve again. The next title followed In 2010 with the cup and one year later, the championship title. Following this the contract with the successful manager Foda was not renewed. Success for Sturm Graz only returned once they brought Frank Foda back in 2014. In the current season the German managed the team to become the winter champions before taking the job of manager of the Austrian national team. Heiko Vogel has now been training the team since the winter break.
Austria
SK Sturm Graz
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