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Eight things you didn’t know about Champions League newcomers, Sheriff Tiraspol

The Champions League debutants have taken the competition by storm following victories over Shakhtar Donetsk and Real Madrid.

When Sheriff qualified for the group stages of the Champions League, expectations were minimal.

The club started their European journey by picking up a 2-0 victory over Shakhtar Dontesk - a result that certainly raised a few eyebrows.

Their second result left fans in a state of disbelief as they beat Real Madrid 2-1 away at the Bernabeu.

Since then, two successive defeats have followed against Inter Milan. Nevertheless, with two games to go in the group, Sheriff are still in a good position and have a decent chance of making it through to the knockout stage.

So who are these rebels that dare to go head-to-head with Europe's elite? Planet Sport looks at eight things you didn't know about Sheriff Tiraspol.

1 - Based in a country that doesn't exist

On paper, Sheriff Tiraspol are a Moldovan club. In reality, the team will be representing the breakaway state of Transnistria.
Sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine, the Transnistrian state have their own government, their own passports and even their own money - which you cannot get anywhere outside of the state itself.
The United Nations and all its members regard the territory as part of Moldova even though the country has no jurisdiction over the state.
A third of the state's population are Russians. Another third are Moldovans - regarded in the state as Romanians. The last third is made up of Ukrainians and Bulgarians.

2 - Sheriff are one of the biggest companies in Transnistria

Sheriff's name is nothing to do with law enforcers with cowboy hats and shiny badges.

In fact, Sheriff are one of the most powerful companies in Transnistria - they own petrol stations, supermarkets, a mobile phone network, a construction company and multiple other businesses.

Due to the state's isolation from Moldovan politics, Sheriff have been able to create a monopoly and as a result, they've become a powerful force in the territory.

One of their main businesses is Sheriff Tiraspol who will bring the company a lot of money and a lot of airtime now they're in the Champions League group stages.

3 - President is a former KGB officer

Viktor Gushan is the man who runs this entire operation. As the president of Sheriff he is also the president of the company's soccer club.

Considering his powerful influence in the state, he would certainly make a good case for being the president of Transnistria. But then again, why draw that much attention to yourself when things appear to be going so well.

Gushan is a former KGB agent and created the club with another fellow agent, Ilya Kazmaly. The pair began the sporting project back in 1997 and are already making waves on the European scene. Take note Tottenham.

4 - Dominance in Moldovan soccer

Sheriff Tiraspol may be based in Transnistria but the team plays in the Moldovan National Division.

The Tiraspol outfit won their first domestic title in 2001. Since then, the club have been pretty much unstoppable, winning 19 titles from 21 seasons.

But despite their domination of the domestic scene, managers have come and gone on a regular basis.

Since 1997, the job has changed 27 times with the current man in charge being the Ukrainian Yuri Vernydub.

Surely qualification for European's biggest competition will earn him a few extra months in the job.

5 - The club has a £123million complex

A quick Google search of Transnistria brings up pictures of Lenin statues, Soviet architecture and the background to the state's very existence.

But despite the state's communist roots, money is in abundance at the club.

The club have a £123million complex which includes a 12,746-seater stadium. There is also a small sports arena (capacity of over 8,000), an indoor-soccer facility, eight training fields and a 50m swimming pool.

Not bad.

6 - Record arrival

Speaking of money, Sheriff's most expensive signing was Marko Markovski who joined from Greek club Skoda Xanthi for £900,000.

The Serbian joined in 2013 but despite winning the league and cup double, he rarely featured, making just 12 appearances.

Just seven months into his three-and-a-half-year contract, the forward moved on loan to Israeli club Bnei Sakhnin. By the summer of 2014, his contract with Sheriff was terminated by mutual consent.

7 - Record departure

Over the years, Sheriff have profited heavily from the transfer market.

However, their sale of Razvan Cocis back in 2007 is yet to be topped. Lokomotiv Moscow forked out £2.3million for the central midfielder.

The Romanian international was a star at Sheriff, making 56 appearances and scoring 24 goals in two seasons.

8 - Europa League regulars

Sheriff may be Champions League debutants but they're certainly no strangers to competing on the European stage.

The club have competed in the Europa League group stages on four separate occasions, even taking on English opposition in 2013/14.

It was during that campaign that Tottenham Hotspur got to feel the full force of the Transnistrian outfit.

Their full force, however, proved inadequate as Spurs secured 2-0 and 2-1 wins.

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