Croatian Football Club Rijeka was founded in 1946 as FC Kvarner, after which Rijeka (known by its Italian name Fiume, until 1945), became a part of Yugoslavia after the end of World War II. According to many, the club’s roots date back to 1925, the year U.S. Fiumana was founded, which competed on various levels of Italian football, including a season at the first level (Divisione Nazionale) in 1928. This claim is supported by the clear continuity between the two clubs - they used the same court (Stadium Kantrida) and eight players of U.S. Fiumana played for FC Kvarner.
During its early years in Yugoslavia, the club was moderately successful in Yugoslav and local competitions. It changed its name to CF Rijeka on 3 June 1954 and advanced to the Yugoslav First League in the 1957/58 season, where it remained until 1969/70 season when it was relegated to the Second League. It returned to the top tier in the 1973/74 season, where it has remained.
The greatest successes in its history are the trophies CF Rijeka has won cup competitions: the Marshal Tito Cup (Yugoslav Cup) twice, in 1978 and 1979; the Croatian Cup three times, in 2005, 2006 and 2014, and one Croatian Football Super Cup.
Rijeka won the Balkans Cup in 1978 and played in the finals of state cups in 1987 and 1994. It was also named the best Croatian club in the Yugoslav First League three times. These successes, along with the title of championship runner-up in the 1998/99, 2004/05, and 2013/14 seasons, put Rijeka on the top of the list of the most successful Croatian clubs.
Rijeka's Euro-adventure started in 1962, as they won a match against German Rot-Weiss Oberhausen in the former Intertoto Cup.
From Rot-Weiss Oberhausen to Standard Liège, CFC Rijeka has played 75 matches in European competitions with 29 wins, 18 draws and 28 losses. The greatest successes came in the last two seasons when the team, led by Matjaž Kek, qualified for the UEFA Europa League two seasons in a row. The team’s best results were accomplished in matches against Real Madrid, Juventus and Stuttgart, and left a golden mark on the history of the club. Rijeka's Euro-adventure started in 1962, as they won a match against German Rot-Weiss Oberhausen in the former Intertoto Cup.
The first major breakthrough in Europe for CFC Rijeka happened in the 1978/79 season when, in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, Rijeka won a match against Welsh Wrexham and won in the second round of that competition. This was just an introduction to what followed in the next season, when they hosted Juventus under the legendary rocks of Kantrida in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. After a draw in the first match (0:0), Rijeka was defeated in the second match in Torino (2:0). Five years later, Rijeka accomplished what is probably their most significant victory in UEFA competitions when, in the second round of UEFA Cup, it defeated Real Madrid 3:1 at Kantrida stadium. Rijeka previously beat Real Valladolid (4:1, 0:1), after which they were knocked out, losing the second match against Royal Madrid Football Club with a score of 3:0 and with three red cards, one of which was given to Damir Desnica who is a deaf-mute.
Although Rijeka played in the qualifications for the Champions League in the 1999/00 season (1:2, 0:3), it accomplished its biggest success in the 2012/13 season when, in qualifications for the UEFA Europa League, it beat Prestatyn Town (5:0, 3:0), Žilina (2:1, 1:0) and Stuttgart (2:1, 2:2), and for the first time in its history won the group competition in which it played against Betis, Lyon and Vitória Guimarães.
In October 2014, Rijeka repeated the success from the previous season when they qualified for UEFA Europa League, beating Feyenoord (3:1) and Standard Liege (2:0) at Kantrida. The match against the former champion Seville ended with a draw (2:2), and they remained in the competition for the championship title until the last round.