Hristo Stoichkov: Autobiography
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Some stories seem too good to be true. But I’ve decided to tell mine. Some people love me, others hate me. I respect that. In any case it’s better for people to hate you for what you are than to love you for what you’re not.
Football brought me into contact with hundreds of superstars from all over the world. I was at the heart of the mighty Barcelona and an important part of Bulgaria’s star team. In 1994 I won my greatest accolade – the Ballon d’Or – and that same year I was top goalscorer at the World Cup in the USA. With Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team I was five-times champion of Spain and have received countless honours.
Who is the real Stoichkov? Txiki Begiristain describes me briefly and precisely in these words: Hristo is someone who doesn’t stint on anything for his friends. If needs be, he’ll give you the keys to his house, his car, and he’ll help you with anything you need. He just requires two things – that you’re loyal and that you never betray him …
In this book you’ll learn about my astonishing journey from socialist Bulgaria to Barcelona and the 100,000-strong crowds at Camp Nou.
Also, you will find my first and probably my last words on some subjects. I believe you’ll appreciate that. I haven’t avoided or hidden anything. This is my truth, my story.
Yours, Hristo Stoichkov
For me, Bulgaria means Hristo Stoichkov. He’s the indisputable master of scoring beautiful goals, but I didn’t bring him to Barça because of that, but because of his character. Inspired, ambitious, hungry for victory! This was precisely the kind of player I needed to build a Dream Team the world might wish for.
Maestro Stoichkov filled us with ambition and gave us strength. He always said that it didn’t matter how many goals you scored, it was whether Barcelona won and whether Barcelona was on top!
When I was managing Barça, I knew that, for Barcelona, señor Stoichkov was something more than top goal scorer and leader of the team. He was even something more than mayor of the city. An undoubted idol who I liked a lot.
SIR BOBBY ROBSON
Hristo Stoichkov is Bulgarian football’s number one. He’s world-class. Many aces from Bulgaria have impressed me, but he is undoubtedly the master of them all.
Hristo Stoichkov is one of the greatest of my competitors for being football’s number one.
Stoichkov was one of the best on the planet. It’s a pity he didn’t come to Milan.
I saw Hristo at a competition in Setúbal when CSKA defeated us. He later gave an awful lot to Barcelona. His contribution to world football goes without saying and has secured him a place in the Club of Giants – the holders of the Ballon d’Or.
Stoichkov is having a great career and is a paragon of professionalism. His life is devoted to football and to people. He is respected throughout the world for his humanity and his work to develop young talent. And like everyone I have always liked him.
Hristo Stoichkov is more than a football player. From his first day he enthralled Barcelona – the changing room, the fans, people in general. Footballers like him are magnetic. And Barça is a club that loves to attract just such charismatic personalities.
Bulgaria had no shortage of great players, but Stoichkov towered over all of them.
I’ll never forget Stoichkov. He and Koeman were the leaders of Barcelona. Ronald looked towards Hristo, sent him a 50-metre pass and Stoichkov only needed one touch to master the ball.
FRANK DE BOER
Bulgaria beat us with a sensationally strong side. Letchkov, Balakov and in first place the omnipresent Stoichkov.
Stoichkov was a player-prodigy!
Stoichkov is a one-off, one of the most glorious in the history of football. He had the extraordinary ability to score goals, no matter what the situation.
Stoichkov was my idol as a kid.
I love Stoichkov so much! He was one of my best friends on the pitch, even though we never played in the same team. He’ll always be in my heart.
Stoichkov is a great football player. When I started at Ajax, he was a star at Barcelona and my inspiration.
I had the opportunity of playing with Marco van Basten, but I admired Stoichkov the most.