Ivelin Popov

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Ivelin Popov
Ivelin Popov 2013 No2.jpg
Personal information
Full name Ivelin Ivanov Popov
Date of birth (1987-10-26) 26 October 1987 (age 27)
Place of birth Sofia, Bulgaria
Height 1.82 m (5 ft 11 12 in)
Playing position Second striker, Winger
Club information
Current team
Kuban Krasnodar
Number 71
Youth career
Septemvri Sofia
0000–2004 Levski Sofia
2005 Feyenoord
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2005–2010 Litex Lovech 96 (25)
2010–2012 Gaziantepspor 60 (6)
2012– Kuban Krasnodar 76 (19)
National team
2006–2008 Bulgaria U21 13 (2)
2007– Bulgaria 52 (9)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 3 May 2015.

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 29 March 2015

Ivelin Popov (Bulgarian: Ивелин Попов; born 26 October 1987) is a Bulgarian footballer playing for Russian Premier League side Kuban Krasnodar as an all-round attacking midfielder. He served as captain of the Bulgaria national football team until November 2014, when he was banned for life following several scandals.[1] After new coach Ivaylo Petev took over the reins of the national team, he announced the ban will be revoked and Popov will remain an important part of the squad. Popov continued to feature in the first-team, but the captain's armband was transferred to Svetoslav Dyakov in March 2015.


Youth career[edit]

Popov, pictured, in 2008.

Born in Sofia, Popov started to play football in Septemvri Sofia's academy. In 2005, he trained for four months with Feyenoord but did not sign with the team because he was not 18 years old.[citation needed] In September 2005, he returned to Bulgaria and played in a tournament for Beroe's youth team and there he was spotted by the Litex Lovech scouts.[citation needed]

Litex Lovech[edit]

Popov signed his first professional contract with Litex Lovech in December 2005. He made his European debut in the first leg of Round of 32 Stage in a 0-0 draw against Strasbourg; he would made his official debut in the Bulgarian top division in a match against CSKA Sofia on 12 March 2006. He played 59 minutes. The result of the match was a 1–1 draw. On 9 April 2006 he scored his first goal in professional football against Lokomotiv Sofia. The result of the match was a 3–1 win for Litex. The same season, Popov played in 11 matches and scored five goals. In two consecutive season, Popov was third placed in the voting for Young player of the year award in 2005/06 and 2006/07 seasons. In 2007/08 UEFA Cup, Popov scored a brace, in a first leg of second round, in a 3-0 win over Besa Kavajë. Eventually, Litex Lovech would advanced to the next round; losing to Hamburg in two's leg.

On 18 September 2008, Popov scored a goal in the first round of the UEFA Cup against Aston Villa.[2] In July 2009, Popov was given the captain's armband[citation needed]. At the end of the season, Popov was awarded A League's player of the season after having the most vote in the poll.[3]

In August 2010, he went on trial to Premier League club Blackburn Rovers.[4] He impressed the club, whereafter he received a contract offer, but the move collapsed over his work permit rejected by the British Government, having not played enough international matches.[5]


Popov playing for Gaziantepspor in 2010.

In September 2010, Ivelin Popov joined the Turkish club Gaziantepspor.[6] He was given the number 71 jersey at the Kamil Ocak Stadium and he made his first Süper Lig appearance on the 13th of September 2010, in Gaziantepspor's fourth game of the season, in an away match against Galatasaray which they lost with a 1-0 score. Popov scored his first league goal for Gaziantepspor against Bucaspor on the 16th of October. Since then, Popov had established himself as a regular starter for the team. Overall, he made 60 league appearances for the club, in which he was able to score 6 goals.

Kuban Krasnodar[edit]

On 25 August 2012, Popov joined Russian Premier League club Kuban Krasnodar on a three-year contract for an undisclosed fee.[7] According to Chempionat.com, the fee was worth 2 million.[8] He made his debut for the club, coming on as a substitute for Marcos Pizzelli, in a 2-1 win over Dynamo Moscow on 2 September 2012. On 26 October 2012, Popov scored his first goal for the club in a 1-0 win over Rostov. Less than a month later he scored his first brace, putting two goals past Krylia Sovetov and contributing with an assist in a 4-1 home victory.[9] On 13 April 2013, Popov scored a late equalizer in a 2-2 draw away from home to Terek Grozny.[10] On 4 May, he scored a brace as Kuban beat Rostov 2-0 away from home on.[11] On the last day of the 2012–13 season, Popov scored the only goal in a vital 1-0 home victory over Anzhi Makhachkala, securing Kuban a European debut in the Third Qualifying Round of the 2013-14 UEFA Europa League and earning them their best ever finish in the top flight at 5th, having the same points as 4th-placed Spartak Moscow.[12] He finished the season with 9 goals as the club's top goalscorer together with Aras Özbiliz.[13]

Because of his outstanding performance in the 2012–13 season, Popov was appointed as captain of Kuban Krasnodar for the 2013-2014 season. He captained his team to its first away victory of the season over Russian Premier League newcomer, Tom Tomsk, by contributing with a pair of assists. The match ended with a 1-2 score. His first brace came shortly after, in a historical first ever match in a European championship for Kuban. He netted 2 goals in a 0-2 away victory over Scottish Premier League runner-ups Motherwell in the first leg of a qualifying match for the UEFA Europa League. Both goals were assisted by team-mate Ibrahima Baldé.[14] This resulted in his jersey being displayed in the National football museum.

On the 28th of April 2014, Ivelin Popov scored an away brace against strong Spartak Moscow in a 0-2 victory. This outstanding performance got him voted as player of week 27 in the Russian Premier League. He continued his good run the week after, which saw him providing 2 assist, marking a 4-0 victory over Krylia Sovetov. The first assist was turned into a goal, scored by fellow Bulgarian teammate Stanislav Manolev, marking his first goal for the club after recently being transferred from PSV Eindhoven. Popov was named man of the match for the second time in a row, earning him a spot in Russian premier league team of the week. He finished his season in Russia having provided 12 assists; making him the joint top assists provider of the season, alongside Danny from Zenit St. Petersburg. He was also included in the team of the season 2013-2014, because of his consistency throughout the whole campaign.

International career[edit]

Popov with Bulgaria in 2011

In August 2007, Dimitar Penev called Popov up to the Bulgaria national team squad for the friendly match with Wales. On 11 February 2009, he scored his first goal for Bulgaria against Switzerland. On 2 April 2009, Popov scored the first of two goals for Bulgaria in the 2-0 win against Cyprus. On 9 February 2011, Popov scored twice from the penalty spot in the 2:2 draw with Estonia in a friendly match, but the result was subsequently declared void by FIFA and expunged from the records due to suspicions of match fixing with the involvement of the game officials.[15][16] He captained the national team during the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification, providing his team with two goals, including a 25-yard free kick goal against Armenia national football team, throughout a tough campaign, having to face strong national teams like those of Italy, Czech Republic and Denmark.


Popov's name became entangled in scandal early in his career and became synonymous with irresponsibility and lack of discipline. In April 2007, he was removed from Litex's starting roster due to bad form.[17]

In September 2008, Popov was banned from the youth national team following an incident on the team bus, where he threw a bottle at the bus driver–-hitting him on the head–-who then lost control of the bus, narrowly avoiding a crash.[18]

In September 2010, just days before the Euro 2012 qualifier against England, Popov led a group of teammates out of the training camp in Pravets and took them to Botevgrad so they could celebrate Valeri Bojinov's birthday, where the players consumed large amounts of alcohol. Days later, Bulgaria lost to England 0:4. In September 2011, as Bulgaria was preparing to host England for the second leg of the Euro 2012 qualifier, Popov again led a group of players to a bar, where they drank until 4am, angering then coach Lothar Matthäus. Bulgaria lost to England 0:3 at home.[19]

On November 16, 2014, Popov missed a penalty against Malta in a Euro 2016 qualifier, allowing for the match to end in a 1:1 draw. Following the game, Popov was accused of missing the penalty on purpose.[20] Days later, it came to light that Popov had abused and humiliated the national team masseuse on several occasions, forcing him to do pushups in front of the other players.[21] At this point, the executive committee of the Bulgarian Football Union had seen enough and proceeded to ban Popov from the national team for life.[22]

On 28 March 2015, during the next official game following the scandal, Popov scored the first goal and was involved in the second goal of the Bulgarian national team for the 2-2 draw with Italy.[23]

Career statistics[edit]


As of 25 January 2015

Club Season League Cup Europe Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Litex Lovech 2005–06 9 5 2 0 1 0 12 5
2006–07 19 1 0 0 2 0 21 1
2007–08 25 10 4 1 6 5 35 16
2008–09 22 3 3 4 4 2 29 9
2009–10 18 6 1 0 0 0 19 6
2010–11 3 0 0 0 4 1 4 1
Total 96 25 10 5 17 8 123 38
Gaziantepspor 2010–11 28 2 8 3 36 5
2011–12 32 4 1 2 4 1 37 7
Total 60 6 9 5 4 1 73 12
Kuban Krasnodar 2012–13 23 9 3 0 26 9
2013–14 29 6 0 0 8 3 37 9
2014–15 14 4 2 1 - - 16 5
Total 66 19 5 1 8 3 79 23
Career totals 222 50 24 11 29 12 275 73

National team[edit]

Bulgaria national team
Year Apps Goals
2007 4 0
2008 4 0
2009 4 2
2010 9 2
2011 7 1
2012 9 1
2013 9 2
2014 5 0
2015 1 1
Total 52 9

Ivelin Popov: International Goals
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 11 February 2009 Switzerland   Switzerland 0–1 1–1 Friendly
2. 1 April 2009 Sofia, Bulgaria  Cyprus 1–0 2–0 World Cup 2010 Qual.
3. 19 May 2010 Brussels, Belgium  Belgium 0-1 2–1 Friendly.
4. 8 October 2010 Cardiff, Wales  Wales 0-1 0-1 Euro 2012 Qual.
5. 4 June 2011 Podgorica, Montenegro  Montenegro 1-1 1–1 Euro 2012 Qual.
6. 26 May 2012 Amsterdam, Netherlands  Netherlands 1-1 1–2 Friendly
7. 22 March 2013 Sofia, Bulgaria  Malta 3-0 6–0 World Cup 2014 Qual.
8. 11 October 2013 Yerevan, Armenia  Armenia 1-1 2–1 World Cup 2014 Qual.
9. 28 March 2015 Sofia, Bulgaria  Italy 1-1 2–2 Euro 2016 Qual.



Litex Lovech



  1. ^ "Popov Banned From The National Team For Life" (in Bulgarian). Standart News. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  2. ^ "Cats send out scout to track Popov". Liverpool Daily Post. Retrieved 19 September 2008. 
  3. ^ "Popov named best in Bulgaria". UEFA.com. 10 May 2010. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  4. ^ "Popov Trial Complete - Rovers Consider Making Offer". Lancashire Evening Telegraph. Retrieved 21 August 2010. 
  5. ^ "Blackburn Rovers target Ivelin Popov denied work permit". Daily Telegraph. 1 September 2010. Retrieved 14 January 2013. 
  6. ^ "Popov makes permanent switch to Gaziantepspor". Reuters. 15 December 2010. Retrieved 14 January 2013. 
  7. ^ "ПОПОВ СТАЛ ИГРОКОМ "КУБАНИ"". fckuban.ru. Retrieved 25 August 2012. 
  8. ^ ""Kuban" paid the captain of Bulgaria Popov € 2 million (in Russian:"Кубань" заплатила за капитана сборной Болгарии Попова € 2 млн)" (in Russian). Chempionat.com. 25 August 2012. Retrieved January 2013. 
  9. ^ Kuban Krasnodar vs Kryliya Sovetov (Soccerway.com)
  10. ^ Terek Grozny vs Kuban Krasnodar (Soccerway.com)
  11. ^ FC Rostov vs Kuban Krasnodar (Soccerway.com)
  12. ^ Kuban Krasnodar vs Anzhi Makhachkala (Soccerway.com)
  13. ^ Russian Premier League 2012-13 (Soccerway.com)
  14. ^ "Motherwell 0 Kuban Krasnodar 2: Popov double inspires Toads to victory at Fir Park". Daily Mail. 1 August 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  15. ^ "FIFA Annuls Result of Bulgaria-Estonia Rigged Friendly". Novinite.com. Retrieved 31 January 2012. 
  16. ^ "Referee of Rigged Bulgaria-Estonia Friendly Arrested". Novinite.com. Retrieved 31 January 2012. 
  17. ^ "Popov Kicked Out Of Litex" (in Bulgarian). Standart News. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  18. ^ "Popov Banned From The Youth National Team" (in Bulgarian). Winner.bg. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  19. ^ "Popov Banned From The National Team For Life" (in Bulgarian). Standart News. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  20. ^ "Popov: I Didn't Miss The Penalty On Purpose" (in Bulgarian). Gol.bg. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  21. ^ "Another Scandal Involving Ivelin Popov In The National Team" (in Bulgarian). Don Balon. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  22. ^ "Popov Banned From The National Team For Life" (in Bulgarian). Standart News. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  23. ^ Italy debutant Éder thwarts Bulgaria
  24. ^ "Иван Иванов е футболист на годината" (in Bulgarian). sportni.bg. Retrieved 2014-01-04. 
  25. ^ Soccerway.com Motherwell VS Kuban Krasnodar, August 1 2013

External links[edit]