Hristo Stoitchkov is a legendary Bulgarian footballer who became a legend not only in his homeland, where he played for a long time for CSKA Sofia, but also in one of the best clubs in the world - Catalan Barcelona. Now he is fifty years old, and he managed to visit the position of head coach in several clubs. When Hristo Stoichkov was a player, he acted as a flanking striker.
Hristo Stoichkov was born on February 8, 1966 in the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv, and since childhood he began to get involved in football. At the age of ten, he joined the football academy of the club "Maritsa", where he spent almost all of his young years. However, in 1982, when Hristo was 14 years old, he moved to another Bulgarian club, "Hebros", where he later studied at the youth academy. But even then it was clear that the teenager has a great future in world football, so it became clear that he would not stay in a small club for a long time. Already in his first season at the age of 16, Stoichkov made his debut for the main team and played eleven games, scoring four goals. In the next season, he already pinned ten goals in 21 matches - naturally, it attracted the attention of larger clubs, and in 1984, when the player turned eighteen, Hristo Stochkov moved to the biggest club in Bulgaria - Sofia CSKA.
Blossoming in CSKA
It is on the performances for the central Bulgarian club and the heyday of such a football player as Hristo Stoichkov. Statistics striker in "Hebros" was impressive - even before reaching adulthood, he had already managed to score 14 goals in 32 games. However, in CSKA the level was much higher, therefore in the first season Stoichkov practically did not appear on the field. Moreover, he remained in reserves for two whole years, for which he played only eleven matches. But in 1986 Stoichkov got his chance - he played 34 matches, scoring seven goals. This was by no means the most impressive indicator, but the young talent practically did not come out at all. However, it was this season that turned out to be a turning point, as Hristo's talent was noticed, and the following year he became a regular base player. In season 87/88 he managed to score 23 goals, that is more than in all subsequent years. But this did not stop Hristo Stoichkov - his statistics continued to improve from season to season. In 88/89 he scored 34 goals, and in 89/90 broke all the records, hitting 47 goals in 38 games. It was an unprecedented success, and everyone understood that the 24-year-old striker will not remain in Bulgaria. They started to take interest in the leading clubs of the world, and after winning three Bulgarian championships and four Cups in Bulgaria, Stoichkov decided to rise to a new level.
Exit to the peak in Barcelona
Season in Parma
However, in "Parma" attacker to start playing, unfortunately, failed. Stoichkov Hristo, whose goals in the game for CSKA Moscow and "Barcelona" excited the whole world, for thirty matches in "Parma" managed to hit the gate of opponents only seven times. At the age it was impossible to write off - Hristo was only 29 years old, the most flourishing for the attacker. Anyway, he did not stay in Parma, and in the summer of 1996 Stoichkov returned to Barcelona, which paid him only two and a half million euros.
Return to Barcelona
Hristo Stoichkov, whose best goals were scored in the "Barcelona", continued to play for the Catalan club - but he did not manage to return to the previous level. During the year, he scored just eight goals in 34 games, and the next half-year in general was a complete nightmare. Hristo only scored one goal, coming out on the field only eight times. On this his contract with "Barcelona" came to an end - the club did not begin to renew the agreement with the veteran, and he decided to return to his homeland.
Short visit to CSKA
In the winter of 1997, Hristo Stoitchkov, a footballer who won seven trophies with CSKA Moscow and who added five wins to the Spanish championship, one victory in the Spanish Cup and one very important victory in the prestigious tournament - the Champions League in 1992, returned to Bulgaria. Here he signed a short-term contract for three months with the club, which became for him the starting point - with the Sofia CSKA. During this brief period, the striker played only four games, adding one more goal to his track record. And on March 1 Stoichkov announced that he had signed another short-term contract, this time with Al-Nasr from Saudi Arabia.
The period in Al-Nasr
With this club Stoichkov's contract was designed for nine months, but he practically did not appear on the field. Two matches and one goal - that's what showed in the new club Hristo Stoichkov. The career of the football player inevitably aspired downwards, and this was not surprising, because by January 1998, when his contract with the Arabian club had expired, the attacker was already 32 years old. However, he did not want to finish appearances in big sports, so he signed a one-year agreement with the Japanese club "Kashiwa".
Playing in Japan
The season that Hristo spent in Japan proved to be quite successful for him - in 17 games he scored eight goals, as a result of which he extended the contract for another six months. During this time, he was able to appear on the field 12 more times, adding to his account an additional five goals. And only in 2000, the legendary striker decided that it was time to assemble for peace. But, like many football players of age, he decided to earn some money in the American League, where famous European football veterans were sent.
A long farewell
Many believed that Stoichkov would play another year in the United States of America and retire, but he was able to do much more. When in his first season he scored as many as ten goals in 21 matches, he decided that he should not yet be tied up with football. So he played two more seasons for the "Chicago Fire", a club that became the haven of legend in the United States. During this time, he scored another ten goals in 36 games, after which he signed the last contract in his career as a football player. The agreement for the year was signed with the club "Di C United", for which Stoichkov played 24 matches, celebrating with six goals. And only in December 2003, a 37-year-old football player announced that he was completing his professional career.
Love for Barcelona, hatred for Real Madrid
Many football fans ask which football club experienced the greatest affection of Hristo Stoichkov. Quotes footballer, which can now be found on the network, clearly indicate that he is the main club in his life believes it is "Barcelona". So, Hristo liked to repeat: "Catalonia and Barcelona will always be my home. This is where I die and I will be buried. "And at the same time, he could not stand the eternal enemy of Barça, Real Madrid. Hristo Stoichkov about the "Real" always responded negatively. When asked if he would ever play in a club in Madrid, he would sharply say that this would never happen. And more recently, when in the spring of 2016 Madrid "Atletico" won the Championship of Spain, ahead of "Real" by one point, Stoichkov very cruelly mocked the royal club. First, he posted a photo on the net, on which he stands with a T-shirt "Atletico" in his hands, while he steps on the T-shirt of "Real". But this seemed to him not enough. How else did Hristo Stoichkov humiliate Real Madrid? He posted on the network a photo of pigs playing football, to which he attached the signature "This is how the losers who finished second in the league are training."
National team appearances
As for Bulgaria, Stoichkov also proved to be the best and became one of the most successful players in the history of the country. He debuted in the team in September 1987, when he was only 21 years old. However, he was able to mark the first goal for the team only a year later, in a friendly match against the national team of Norway. But this does not mean that he was not successful, because later he began to score more often. In total for the national team of Bulgaria he played 80 matches, in which he scored 41 goals, that is, he scored in every second match. And his first major tournament in 1994 was a real benefit, thanks in large part to the efforts of Hristo, who was recognized as the best football player of Europe of that year, Bulgaria reached the semifinals of the World Cup. This was the best result in the history of the national team. Stoichkov could not score in the first match against Nigeria, in which the Bulgarians were defeated with a score of 0: 3. No one then could have thought that the national team would go so far - but it happened.
In the match with the Greeks Stoichkov compensated for his failure, scoring just two goals, and in all subsequent matches scored one goal. However, in the semifinals against the Italian team this was not enough - the Bulgarians lost 1: 2, and in the match for third place Stoichkov could not score. The fighting spirit of the team was broken, and the Swedes took the bronze of that World Cup in general without resistance. At the 1996 European Championships Stoichkov played in each of the three matches - and scored a goal in each of them, but this did not help the team to go to the playoffs, as these three goals were the only ones, Stoichkov was not helped. The 1998 World Cup, which was the last for Hristo, proved to be a failure for the team - the former stars left, and players of a completely different level came to replace them. As a result, in three games Stoichkov did not score a single goal, and the Bulgarians flew off the championship. The last match for the national team striker spent the summer of 1999 - it was a qualifying match against the England team, where he scored one assists (by the way, it was the second in his career for the national team). The last goal for the team, he scored a little earlier, in March of the same year, in a match against the Luxembourg national team.
Coaching Stoichkov began even before he completed his career as a football player. The fact is that in 2003 he signed a contract with the American "Di C United", but he became not just a player, but a playing coach. And when his contract with the club expired, Hristo returned to his beloved "Barcelona", which offered him the post of technical trainer at Frank Rijkaard's headquarters. Until the end of the season 03/04 Stoichkov gained experience under the direction of a more serious coach, after which he decided to take a new level and responded to the offer of the Bulgarian Football Union with the consent - since the summer of 2004, Hristo became coach of the Bulgaria national team. He stayed on this post for two and a half years and showed pretty good results - out of 19 matches lost only three, while achieving victories over such superior rivals as Turkey or Slovenia.
The career of the football player and coach was simply incredibly rich - Stoichkov played for different clubs, won many trophies, became the best scorer, the best player of the year, headed both the national team and clubs both at home and abroad. At the moment, Stoichkov does not conduct any activities directly related to football, but he did not officially announce the end of his coaching career. He is only 50 years old, so much can happen in the future. Perhaps he will return to coaching activities, perhaps he will take some other post. But to date, Stoichkov does not have a signed contract with any club. As a coach he did not have to become as legendary a person as he was as a football player - perhaps that's why he decided to temporarily move away from football affairs.