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Hristo Stoichkov Stoichkov alternatively spelt Stoitchkov ( ), a.k.a. The Dagger (Камата) (born 8 February 1966 in Plovdivmarker) is a football manager and former striker who was a member of the Bulgaria national team that finished fourth at the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Apart from his footballing talent, he was notable for his on-pitch temper. He was honoured as European Footballer of the Year in 1994. He was named by Pelé as one of the 125 Greatest Living Footballers at a FIFAmarker Awards Ceremony in 2004.

Playing Style

Stoichkov played as a left winger who was known for his explosive acceleration and speed dribbling, and for taking unpredictable shots on goal. He was also notable at taking free kicks and penalties as well as being among the best crossers in the world at his prime. He gained much popularity because of his aggressive temper on the pitch. He could often be seen arguing with the referee, or with his opponents.In 2006, he was sued by a former American Universitymarker college student whose leg he broke in a violent tackle during a match against D.C. United in 2003. The case was settled out of court in 2007 for undisclosed financial terms. The student's coach called Stoichkov's challenge "criminal". Ray Hudson, who coached DC United for whom Stoichkov played at the time, called it a "rash tackle". Following an investigation by MLS, Stoichkov was suspended two games and fined $2,000.

Club career

Stoichkov began his career in his hometown, moving to Hebros (Harmanli) in 1984. The next year he went to CSKA Sofia. There he was involved in a fight during the final of the 1985 Bulgarian Cup which resulted in his suspension. After he was brought back to football, he managed to win the European Golden Boot with CSKA by scoring 38 goals in 30 games. He then moved on to FC Barcelona, Parma, Al-Nassr, and finally finishing his career in Japanmarker with Kashiwa Reysol and the United Statesmarker with the Chicago Fire and D.C. United, as a coach.

FC Barcelona

As part of Johan Cruyff's 'Dream Team', Stoichkov helped Barcelona to the most successful era of the club, winning the Primera Division four years in a row between 1991 and 1994 and the European Cup after defeating Sampdoria in 1992. During his stay in Barcelona, he had become an idol for the club's fans, and was Barça's most popular player at the time, having earned a place in the supporters' hearts much like Johan Neeskens and Diego Maradona in the past.

In his first season with the club Stoichkov was suspended for two months for stomping on a referee's foot, but he still netted 14 league goals and six more in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.

In 1994 he was named European Footballer of the Year after leading his national side to the 1994 World Cup semifinals.

National team

At the 1994 FIFA World Cup, Stoichkov was awarded the Golden Boot as the joint top goal scorer of the tournament (with Oleg Salenko), with six goals. He led Bulgaria past Germany to the semi finals, where they lost 2-1 to Italy. They subsequently lost the 3rd place play-off to Sweden, 4-0.

Bulgaria finished second in the qualifying group for Euro 96 after the first place was taken by the eventual winners, Germany. Stoichkov scored 10 goals for his team during the qualifiers, as Bulgaria qualified as one of the best 6 runners-up. In the first match against Germany in Sofia, Bulgaria were 2-0 down at half-time. Stoichkov equalized with two goals from penalties and Emil Kostadinov also scored for a 3-2 win. Bulgaria lost the second match in Germany 3-1.

During the finals, Bulgaria lost 3-1 in the decisive group match against a very strong France side (the future World Champions); at the same time, in the other match, Spain won 2-1 late on against Romania and so the Bulgarians went out. In that tournament Stoichkov scored 3 goals in 3 matches, and another goal against Spain was disallowed for offside, though action replays show that he was actually on-side. Stoitchkov was the only player to score from a free kick (against France) in this tournament.

He was also part of the squad that was eliminated in the first round of the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Bulgaria was not nearly as strong as in previous years, and scored only one goal in the tournament, in a 6-1 defeat by Spain.

Stoichkov retired from internationals in 1999 with 37 goals in 83 appearances. Subsequently he was the coach of the Bulgarian national team from 2004 to April 2007.

Career statistics



1982-83 FC Hebros 11 4
1983-84 21 10
1984-85 CSKA Sofia A PFG 11 0
1985-86 0 0
1986-87 25 6
1987-88 27 14
1988-89 26 23
1989-90 30 38

1990-91 FC Barcelona La Liga 24 14 6 2 - 8 5 38 21
1991-92 32 17 2 1 - 9 4 43 22
1992-93 33 20 6 2 - 6 2 45 24
1993-94 34 16 6 1 - 8 7 48 24
1994-95 26 9 4 5 - 8 3 38 17

1995-96 Parma Serie A 23 5 2 0 - 5 2 30 7

1996-97 FC Barcelona La Liga 22 7 6 1 - 6 0 34 8
1997-98 4 0 1 0 - 3 1 8 1

1997-98 CSKA Sofia A PFG 4 1

1997-98 Al-Nasr 5 1

1998 Kashiwa Reysol J. League Division 1 16 8 1 0 0 0 - 17 8
1999 11 4 - 1 1 - 12 5

2000 Chicago Fire Major League Soccer 18 9 3 1
2001 17 6 3 2
2002 16 2 0 0
2003 D.C. United 21 5 3 1


In November 2003, to celebrate UEFA's Jubilee, he was selected as the Golden Player of Bulgaria by the Bulgarian Football Union as their most outstanding player of the past 50 years.

Coaching career

In the 2003-04 season, Stoichkov started a coaching career, serving as a forwards coach at Barça. After Bulgarian national team coach Plamen Markov resigned in the wake of the team's first-round exit from Euro 2004, the Bulgarian Football Union named him as the new national team coach on 15 July.

Stoichkov's coaching career got off to a bad start with him failing to qualify the Bulgarian national team for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. He brought his bad temper from his career as a player to the coaching bench. A couple of proven players quit the team due to personal differences with Stoichkov. The most notable scandal was at the 03/09/05 game against Sweden, where he was sent-off for insulting the referee.

The biggest blow to Hristo Stoichkov as a coach of the national team of Bulgaria came on 12/10/2006, when Stiliyan Petrov, the captain of the team, announced he will not play for the team as long as Stoichkov is the coach. Petrov is the third player and the second captain in two years to leave the team because of differences with Stoichkov. However, on 17/03/2007 Stiliyan Petrov announced that he had a private conversation with Stoichkov, in which they were able to work their differences out. As a result Petrov would return to the team.

On April 10, 2007, the Bulgarian Football Union announced they had accepted the resignation of Hristo Stoichkov from the post of national coach. That was as a result of the poor performance of the team at the current Euro 2008 qualifying campaign, followed by widely spread criticism and debate over the qualities of the coach. The specific game, which led to increased pressure on Stoichkov, was the 0:0 home draw with Albania.(despite the fact that the Bulgarians generally controlled the game and hit the post twice). He had a short disappointing stint as manager at Celta de Vigo, for which he was sacked following the team's slump that took them to the lower reaches of the Spanish Second Division. On October 8, 2007 he was replaced by ex-Real Madrid coach Juan Ramón López Caro.On March 12, 2009, Hristo Stoichkov visited the Manchester City training ground after requesting a visit.

On 14 May 2009, Iranianmarker club Abu Moslem reported the signing of Stoichkov as coach. However Stoichkov then changed his mind due to the tense political situation in Iranmarker, instead opting to move to Mamelodi Sundowns, where he replaced Henri Michel on 29 June 2009.


  1. AU Player Settles With Club, MLS, Stoitchkov
  2. Player Hurt in United Scrimmage in '03 Seeks Damages
  3. The singular genius of the mad boy Hristo
  4. FCB official site
  5. Golden Players take centre stage
  6. Petrov steps back from Bulgaria
  7. Petrov returns to Bulgaria fold
  8. Report: Celta Vigo fires coach Hristo Stoitchkov - International Herald Tribune
  9. Hristo Stoichkov to coach Iranian club Abu Moslem
  10. Stoichkov named coach of South Africa's Sundowns

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