The legend of the player Hristo Stoichkov
Hristo Stoichkov had a technique far above average, the brilliant and spectacular left-hander could easily play against opposing defences. The greatest Bulgarian player of all time is a reflection of the soccer of the 90s. Humanly, neither crazy nor wise. Only the unique expression of the total shown in the player holds more than his part as a footballer. His mimics, his real-false aggressions, his theatrical gestures, and his haughty attitudes, before he becomes again an emotional kid among kids, make him an extraordinary character that the magnifying glasses of the television cameras have been able to capture with talent.
Hristo Stoichkov was born in 1966 in the oldest still populated city in Europe named Plovdiv, it was complicated for him to think about “soccer” in the long run during his youth in Bulgaria. And that he was not far from deviating completely, as he explained to beIN SPORTS: “If I had not become a footballer, I would have been a thief or a criminal. I thought several times of leaving my country without asking permission. I told myself that I had to go to another country, take up a sport and play soccer.
Hristo Stoichkov had a left foot of another world and magic and he illuminated the socios of the Camp Nou for almost five seasons, scoring a whopping 76 goals in 152 league games between 1990 and 1995. Under Johan Cruyff, in what for many experts remains one of the most beautiful teams in history, Stoichkov blossomed completely.
Johan Cruyff, the Flying Dutchman knew how to place him on the field of play, neither center forward nor left-winger, but swallowing spaces alongside the Brazilian Romario. Barcelona dominates the Spanish Liga and the European continent with the famous first C1 in the history of the club. At the top of his art in the great Catalan club, Stoichkov nevertheless attracts a reputation as a bad boy on the grounds. Brutality, insults, “El Pistolero” collected warnings and suspensions.
His taste for fighting almost earned him a disbarment at the age of 18 following a Bulgarian Cup final that turned into a boxing match. It is very likely that these unsportsmanlike attitudes cost him the Golden Ball in 1992, in favour of Marco van Basten, while he was favoured by the prognosis. His 1993-1994 season is undoubtedly the most successful of his career both collectively and individually. In addition to winning the Liga, the striker finished fourth in the World Cup with Bulgaria and joint top scorer of the competition (6 goals) with the Russian Oleg Salenko. Emblematic captain of the Bulgarian national team, he was part of an exceptional generation (with Emil Kostadinov and Krasimir Balakov). At the end of that year, he was finally awarded the coveted Ballon d’Or, ahead of the two Italian players Roberto Baggio and Paolo Maldini.
Unfortunately, in 1995, Stoichkov left the Blaugrana because of a six-month suspension for a kick sent to a linesman. He joined the Italian team of Parma, one of the best European teams of the moment, with the firm intention of winning the Scudetto. But the Bulgarian, regularly the favourite target of a ruthless specialized press, will never manage to fully impose himself in Serie A.
After only one season and very few goals, he returned to Barcelona, the club of his heart, but this time he had to be content with a place on the bench. He began his downward parabola. Much too early. The career of the Bulgarian also declines at the international level. At the Euro 1996, Bulgaria is eliminated from the first round, after a defeat without appeal (lost 3 goals to 1) against France.
The 1998 World Cup confirms the end of a golden generation, which leaves the competition after a humiliating defeat against Spain (6 goals to 1) in the first round. At the end of his career, he ended up in second-rate teams and signed brief contracts in exotic clubs such as the Japanese club Kashima Reysol and the American club Chicago Fire. He retired in 2003 in complete anonymity. After a few mixed experiences as a coach and almost three years at the head of the Bulgarian national team (2004 to 2007), Hristo Stoichkov became more and more involved in politics.