When FK Qarabağ won the Azerbaijan championship in July 1993, the first season of the new independent football league in the former Soviet republic, there were no celebrations.
Days earlier, their home town of Aghdam had fallen into the hands of occupying forces from neighbouring Armenia after a five-year struggle, and the town’s inhabitants fled east across the country to Azerbaijan’s major cities.
In the days that followed, the city was destroyed, razed to the ground by the Armenian army so that it could never again become the hub of Turkic culture it had historically been.
Qarabag, meanwhile, became the nomads of Azerbaijani football, wandering from city to city, seeking fans and a home of their own. By 2001, they had nowhere left to turn. Rudderless and broke, the club solemnly faced up to its fate, and prepared to go to the wall.