Purple Warrior

We try to evaluate our players' efforts in different ways. They all give their best on the field in order to fulfil the objectives of the club and for extra incentive, there is a special prize awarded to the most spirited individual. The idea for this prize was born in 2008. Among the players who played in at least 10 league games, the fans choose one who, through his attitude towards the jersey, the fans and the club in general earns the prestigious title of the Purple Warrior. The first player to win this title was Lubomir Kubica. His successor was Dejan Mezga and the third player to be awarded the prize was Elvedin Džinić. The fourth Purple warrior is the current team captain Marcos Magno Morales Tavares, who won the prestigious title over three successive years in 2011, 2012 and 2013. The winner is selected by season ticket holders and by the visitors of the club website nkmaribor.com.

2013 Marcos Magno Morales TAVARES 2012 Marcos Magno Morales TAVARES 2011 Marcos Magno Morales TAVARES

His full name is Marcos Magno Morales Tavares. His jersey says Tavares. To his teammates and his friends he is known as Tava and to everyone else, even the more casual football fans, he is the synonym for club captain, the true leader of the best football team in Slovenia. The one who keeps on scoring goals, creating opportunities for his teammates and who is almost never injured.

Apart from his performances on the pitch, Marcos won the people of Maribor over with his never-ending and infectious smile. It's now been four years since he moved to the city on the Drava river. He admits that after leaving the Cypriot club APOEL, he never thought that he would stay and form a family here. “I had no idea where I was going. I heard I was the club's first Brazilian player but I quickly adapted to life here. Over the past few years, the club has kept on progressing in big strides and in every possible way, on the pitch and as an institution. In the meantime, we quickly sorted out a contract extension which says everything about how I feel in Maribor. I'm happy that my family feels well here as well. The four years I've been living here in Maribor mean a lot to me. I can feel it my heart that this is my home. We are winning trophies, we are performing well in European competitions. I have no second thoughts, I love it here and long may it continue.

Similarly, there were no second thoughts in the minds of the fans when they choose the most spirited player in the most competitive contest to date. They chose the captain Marcos Tavares who became the Purple Warrior of 2011. “I would like to thank all the fans who voted for me. I am really pleased and honoured to receive this award. It means a lot to me because in these last 4 years I learned that the people in Maribor really love their club. They support the team through thick and thin, they were there for us even when things were not going according to plan. For me, being crowned Purple Warrior is comparable with winning the league title. I always want to give everything for this team and this club. People have recognized that and I feel especially honoured by this award because it was the fans that chose me. And I will not stop here. Because of it, I am determined to work even harder, so that at the end of the season we will lift the league trophy once more.

The popular captain promises to keep the fans in his heart even if he should one day leave the club. But the feelings are mutual, the purple colour of the club has already got under his skin and he promises that there are more beautiful shared moments to look forward to. As are the goals, the assists and the spirited performances of the Purple Warrior of the year 2011.

2010 Elvedin DŽINIĆ 2009 Dejan MEZGA 2008 Lubomir KUBICA
After two foreign players, the prize was awarded to a player who, prior to moving to Belgium, grew up in the club. Elvedin Džinić is a relentless defender who never gives up. Just remember the game at Ljudski vrt against Hit Gorica: after jumping for the ball and acrobatically clearing a dangerous situation, he crashed to the ground. As a consequence, he dislocated his left elbow, which turned out to be a mild injury. If you have seen the footage of his arm in a completely unnatural position, you know why. That's the popular Džina. When it comes to the club he loves, there is nothing he would not do. When the club doctor Matjaž Vogrin set his elbow, he wanted to run back on the pitch. Luckily, they stopped him before he could.
Given the opportunity, he would try to do the same thing. “That's just the type of a player I am. I always fight till the end. That injury was merely a result of unfortunate circumstances, although it is true that I always give my best. If we win, great and if we lose, you just deal with it. But for me, the most important thing is to give it my all. Sometimes you just have to jump on your head. It's just the way it is.” His fighting spirit, relentlessness and firmness did not go unnoticed. “The fact that the fans chose me for this award is really something special. You try your best at every match and you are rewarded with something like this. It really means a lot because these are the people who watch you play," said the third Purple Warrior and the first local player to win this award. “It's an important achievement and it puts you in a different light. It's not irrelevant who has a say in competitions like this. Your teammates respect you more and they value your efforts. I did not follow the competition while voting was still in progress but now that I've won, I am of course very happy.
Brezje near Čakovec. A small Croatian village, most people in Maribor and its surrounding areas probably would not know it existed. If it weren't for someone special from Brezje that they became especially fond of: that man is Dejan Mezga. His characteristic runs bring a new dimension to our game and with his conduct on the pitch and his attitude towards the club jersey, he has, according to the fans of NK Maribor, become a role model for generations to come. The approval that comes from the stands is always something special. It carries extra weight.
Being selected for the Purple Warrior award really meant a lot to me. I am honoured to succeed my good friend Kubica in receiving this special award,” Dejan said upon being crowned the Purple Warrior, which was all the more special as he had played only 17 league games during the season. Why do you think the fans chose you for this award? “I've always given my best and I guess people recognized and acknowledged that. I was going through some rough times when I injured myself twice during the same match. First I broke my finger and then I suffered a hamstring injury. Being crowned the Purple Warrior is really something special, not just to me but for every player. I am happy I won this award. When you get this sort of recognition from the fans your teammates start to look at you differently.” Because he is always eager to bounce back after an injury as soon as possible, he sometimes returns to playing matches too early. But what is important is that Dejan shows the same kind of eagerness every time he runs onto the pitch. And he remains to be one of the most important players in the squad.
The Czech braveheart, the first Purple Warrior who quickly became popular with his teammates and the fans, he is relentless, always focused and a true team player. A Czech international in the younger selections (member of the same generation as Čech, Baroš, Grygera...) who is very adaptable as he can play both in the heart of the defence or as a defensive midfielder.
“As a young football player I learned that sometimes you just had to suck it up. If you didn't, you were out of the team. I really wanted to play so sometimes I would play with a minor injury. That helped me build my character. As long as I can run, I won't stop. That's why my teammates gave me the nickname The Animal and maybe that's also why the fans like me,” Lubomir Kubica explains. After he left Maribor, he played in Kazakhstan and he spent the second part of this season in the Czech Republic. At 31, he's still motivated to play. He still has a couple of years of professional football in him and he'll always remember our club with special fondness. “I am proud to be given the honour of becoming the first Purple Warrior. I've always tried my best, I only acknowledged victories and had a hard time coping with defeats. I would like to thank the fans for honouring me with this award. I've always felt good in Maribor, not just on the football pitch. The fact that I always come and visit when I get the chance speaks for itself. Even though it's only for a day or two.”