Stoichkov in the summer of 2012 as coach of Litex Lovech
|Full name||Hristo Stoichkov|
|Date of birth||8 February 1966|
|Place of birth||Plovdiv, Bulgaria|
|Height||1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgarian: Христо Стоичков Стоичков; born 8 February 1966 in Plovdiv) is a retired Bulgarian footballer who is currently a football commentator for Univision Deportes. A prolific forward, he is regarded as one of the best players of his generation and is widely considered the greatest Bulgarian footballer of all time. He was runner-up for the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 1992 and 1994, and received the Ballon d'Or in 1994. In 2004, Stoichkov was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players.
At club level, Stoichkov spent six years at CSKA Sofia and became the top goalscorer in Europe in 1990, receiving the European Golden Shoe. In 1990 he joined FC Barcelona where he earned the Spanish nickname 'El Pistolero' which translates to 'the gunslinger', and he was part of Johan Cruyff's "Dream Team" that won four consecutive La Liga titles and one UEFA Champions League. During his time at the club he formed a lethal strike partnership with Romário.
Stoichkov was a member of the Bulgaria national team that finished fourth at the 1994 World Cup, of which he was the top scorer with six goals and received the World Cup Golden Shoe. He was ranked the third best player at the World Cup, after Romário and Roberto Baggio, and received the World Cup Bronze Ball. Apart from his footballing talent, he was notable for his on-pitch temper. In his playing career he was nicknamed The Dagger (Камата).
Stoichkov was born in the village of Yasno Pole near Plovdiv. The people of Yasno Pole voted in 1997 to change to the name to Stoichkovo in his honour. Stoichkov began his career in his hometown, moving to Hebros in 1984. The next year he went to CSKA Sofia. At the beginning of his five years stay at CSKA, Stoichkov—who later became famous for his short temper—became involved in a fight during the final of the 1985 Bulgarian Cup, which resulted in an original lifelong ban, later reduced to a month 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.
After 5 years with CSKA Sofia, Stoichkov transferred to Barcelona. 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 Cup Winners' Cup. He became part of Johan Cruyff's "Dream Team", and helped Barcelona to one of the most successful eras 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 became an idol for the club's fans, and played in tandem with Romário in attack. Stoichkov was twice named runner up for the FIFA World Player of the Year, in 1992 and 1994, and he won the Ballon d'Or in 1994 after leading his national team to the 1994 World Cup semi-finals.
Stoichkov debuted for the Bulgaria national football team in a UEFA Euro 1988 qualifying match against Belgium on 23 September 1987. He scored his first international goal in his fourth appearance, a 3–2 friendly defeat of Qatar in Doha.
During qualification for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, Stoichkov scored five goals to help Bulgaria qualify for its first major tournament since the 1986 World Cup. At the tournament finals, Stoichkov was awarded the World Cup Golden Boot as the joint top goal scorer of the tournament (with Oleg Salenko), with six goals, as well as earning the Bronze Ball award. He led Bulgaria past Germany in the quarter-finals 2-1, a shock result as Germany were the then-defending champions; in the semi-finals, they lost 2–1 to Italy. They subsequently lost the third place play-off to Sweden, 4–0.
Bulgaria finished second in the qualifying group for [[UEFA Euro 1996] behind Germany. Stoichkov scored ten goals for his team during the qualifiers, as Bulgaria qualified as one of the best six 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 strong France side; in the other match, Spain won 2–1 against Romania and so the Bulgarians went out. In that tournament, Stoichkov scored three goals in three matches.
He was also part of the squad that was eliminated in the first round of the 1998 World Cup. Bulgaria was not nearly as strong as in previous years, earning only one point in a 0–0 draw against Paraguay and scoring only one goal through Kostadinov 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.
Style of play
Stoichkov was a quick, creative, tenacious, and prolific left footed forward, who was primarily deployed as a striker, but was also capable of playing in a creative role, as an attacking midfielder, due to his ability to provide assists for team-mates. He was also deployed as a supporting striker throughout his career, forming a lethal strike partnership with Romário at Barcelona, and occasionally he played as a right winger during his time at the club, although he was also capable of playing on the left or through the middle. A powerful, physically strong, and technically gifted player, Stoichkov was known for his explosive acceleration, and his dribbling ability at speed, as well as for his tendency to take unpredictable, powerful shots on goal. The top goalscorer at the 1994 FIFA World Cup, he was also notable at taking free kicks and penalties, as well as being a very good crosser and passer of the ball.
Despite his talent, Stoichkov was criticised for his work-rate at times, and he also gained infamy 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 University 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 D.C. 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.
In the 2003–04 season, Stoichkov started a managing career, serving as a forwards coach at Barça. After Bulgarian national team manager 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 manager on 15 July.
Stoichkov's managing career got off to a bad start with him failing to qualify the Bulgarian national team for the 2006 World Cup. He brought his bad temper from his career as a player to the bench. A couple of proven players quit the team due to personal differences with Stoichkov. The most notable scandal was on 5 September 2005, in a game against Sweden, where he was sent-off for insulting the referee.
The biggest blow to Stoichkov as a manager of the national team of Bulgaria came on 12 October 2006, when Stiliyan Petrov, the captain of the team, announced he would not play for Bulgaria as long as Stoichkov was manager. Petrov was the third player and the second captain in two years to leave the team because of differences with Stoichkov. However, on 17 March 2007, Stiliyan Petrov announced that he had 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 10 April 2007, the Bulgarian Football Union announced they had accepted the resignation of Stoichkov from his post with the national team. That was as a result of the poor performance of the team at the ongoing Euro 2008 qualifying campaign, followed by widely spread criticism and debate over the qualities of the manager. 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 Vigo, for which he was sacked following the team's slump that took them to the lower reaches of the Spanish Second Division. On 8 October 2007, he was replaced by ex-Real Madrid manager Juan Ramón López Caro. On 12 March 2009, Stoichkov visited the Manchester City training ground after requesting a visit.
On 29 June 2009, Stoichkov moved to Mamelodi Sundowns, where he replaced Henri Michel. On 16 March 2010 he quit Mamelodi Sundowns, with the former South African national team manager Trott Moloto named caretaker until a full-time replacement is found.
In January 2012, he was appointed as manager of Bulgarian side Litex replacing Lyuboslav Penev, who left to become manager of the Bulgarian national football team. In May 2013, Stoichkov was recognized as the A PFG manager of the season following a vote by the professional footballers in the Bulgarian league. In June 2013, Stoichkov was named the manager of Bulgarian powerhouse CSKA Sofia, but quit one month later after he lost faith in the troubled club.
|Club performance||League||Cup||League Cup||Continental||Total|
|Bulgaria||League||Bulgarian Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|1984–85||CSKA Sofia||A PFG||11||0||11||0|
|Spain||League||Copa del Rey||Copa de la Liga||Europe||Total|
|1990–91||FC Barcelona||La Liga||24||14||6||2||-||8||5||38||21|
|Italy||League||Coppa Italia||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|Spain||League||Copa del Rey||Copa de la Liga||Europe||Total|
|1996–97||FC Barcelona||La Liga||22||7||6||1||-||6||0||34||8|
|Bulgaria||League||Bulgarian Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|1997–98||CSKA Sofia||A PFG||4||1||4||1|
|Saudi Arabia||League||Crown Prince Cup||League Cup||Asia||Total|
|Japan||League||Emperor's Cup||J. League Cup||Asia||Total|
|1998||Kashiwa Reysol||J. League Division 1||16||8||1||0||0||0||-||17||8|
|United States||League||Open Cup||League Cup||North America||Total|
|2000||Chicago Fire||Major League Soccer||18||9||3||1||21||10|
|Bulgaria national team|
- As of 8 July 2013.
|Bulgaria||15 July 2004||10 April 2007||Competitive||15||6||6||3||40.00||24||20||+4|
|Celta Vigo||April 2007||8 October 2007||League||16||7||1||8||43.75||18||22||–4|
|Copa del Rey||1||0||0||1||0.00||1||2||–1|
|Mamelodi Sundowns||29 June 2009||16 March 2010||Premier Soccer League||30||16||8||6||53.33||43||24||+19|
|Litex Lovech||5 January 2012||31 May 2013||Bulgarian A Professional Football Group||46||25||9||12||54.35||89||38||+51|
|CSKA Sofia||5 June 2013||8 July 2013||Bulgarian A Professional Football Group||0||0||0||0||—||0||0||0|
- Bulgarian League: 1987, 1989, 1990; Runner-up: 1985, 1988
- Bulgarian Cup: 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989; Runner-up: 1986, 1990
- Bulgarian Supercup: 1989
- Spanish League: 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1997–98; Runner-up: 1996–97
- Spanish Super Cup: 1992, 1994, 1996
- European Cup: 1991–92; Runner-up: 1993–94
- European Super Cup: 1992, 1997
- Copa del Rey: 1996–97; Runner-up: 1995–96
- UEFA Cup Winners Cup: 1996–97; Runner-up: 1990–91
- Intercontinental Cup: 1992; Runner-up
- Asian Cup Winners Cup: 1998
- Bulgarian Footballer of the Year: 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994
- Bulgarian League Top Scorer: 1989, 1990
- European Cup Winners' Cup Top Scorer: 1989
- European Golden Shoe: 1990
- Onze d'Or: 1992
- FIFA World Player of the Year Silver Ball: 1992, 1994
- FIFA World Cup Golden Shoe: 1994
- FIFA World Cup Bronze Ball: 1994
- FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 1994
- Don Balón Award for Best Foreign Player in La Liga: 1994
- Onze d'Argent: 1994
- Ballon d'Or: 1994
- IFFHS World's Top Goal Scorer of the Year: 1994
- Bulgarian Sportsperson of the Year: 1994
- UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament: 1996
- UEFA Jubilee Awards – Greatest Bulgarian Footballer of the last 50 Years: 2004
- FIFA 100: 2004
- World Soccer's 100 Greatest Players of the 20th Century: 2007
- Golden Foot: 2007, as football legend
- 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.
- He was named by Pelé as one of the 125 Greatest Living Footballers at a FIFA Awards ceremony in 2004.
- Includes Kirin Cup.
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