Yordan Letchkov

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Yordan Letchkov
Yordan Letchkov.JPG
Personal information
Full name Yordan Letchkov
Date of birth (1967-07-09) 9 July 1967 (age 51)
Place of birth Sliven, Bulgaria
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Playing position Midfielder
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1984–1991 Sliven 155 (55)
1991–1992 CSKA Sofia 29 (17)
1992–1996 Hamburger SV 121 (14)
1996–1997 Marseille 28 (2)
1997–1998 Beşiktaş 27 (4)
2001–2002 CSKA Sofia 25 (5)
2002–2004 Sliven 21 (4)
Total 406 (101)
National team
1989–1998 Bulgaria 45 (5)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Yordan Letchkov (also transliterated Jordan, Iordan, Lechkov) (Bulgarian: Йордан Лечков) (born 9 July 1967) is a former Bulgarian footballer. He is generally regarded as one of the best players to come out of Bulgaria and was a key member of the squad which reached the semi-finals of the 1994 World Cup Finals.[1] Known to many as "The Magician", Letchkov was a gifted player who could play as a central midfielder or on the left side of midfield, and he was easily recognizable for his baldness. He was best known for his dribbling ability. However, his career was often adversely affected by his moody nature and the numerous arguments and fallings-out he had with fellow players and managers. He was the mayor of his home town for eight years, but was removed from duty due to corruption.

Club career[edit]

Born in Sliven, Letchkov began his career as a youngster with Sliven football club (Bulgaria), after breaking into the first team at a young age he secured a transfer to Bulgaria's top side CSKA Sofia (Bulgaria, 1991–92 season) and soon after he made the move to Germany with Hamburger SV (Germany, from the 1992–93 season to the 1995–96 season). After that he secured a move to Olympique de Marseille (France, 1996–97 season), at this point one of the top clubs in Europe. However a difficult relationship with the club's management led to his departure after one season.

His next stop took him to Turkey with Beşiktaş (Turkey, from the 1997–98 season). However, just after six months with the club, he returned late from holidays and fell into a dispute with the manager John Toshack. After being fined by the club, he refused to pay, stated that he has quit football and subsequently returned to Bulgaria. He has been variously quoted since as saying the Istanbul club owes him money, that he was unable to get on with its coach Toshack and that his wife could not settle in Turkey. However he soon started training with a Bulgarian club. Beşiktaş appealed to FIFA which declared Letchkov in breach of contract and ordered him to pay 200.000 DM in compensation. Beşiktaş renewed its appeals to UEFA and FIFA when Letchkov turned out without club permission for Bulgaria in a friendly against Argentina. FIFA subsequently ruled that Letchkov was ineligible to play for any other team without clearance from Beşiktaş, and that included his national side. Despite helping Bulgaria to reach 1998 World Cup, he could not play due to his dispute with Beşiktaş.[2][3]

After about three years away from football, Letchkov returned to football in the 2001–02 season with CSKA Sofia. Between 2002 and 2004 he became player-coach of OFC Sliven, a club in the second division of Bulgarian football. Letchkov is often referred to as being part of the "Golden Generation" of Bulgarian football, who along with Stoichkov, Kostadinov and Balakov led the national side to the semifinals of the 1994 World Cup.

International career[edit]

Letchkov played 45 matches and scored five goals for Bulgaria;[4] however his international career was limited by a series of disagreements with coaches and the Bulgarian Football Federation.

He is perhaps best remembered for scoring the winner against Germany in the quarter-finals of the 1994 World Cup,[5] as Bulgaria reached the semi-finals where they were beaten by Italy.[6] Above all thanks to his very good matches in that World Cup, he was placed in the 13th position of the 1994 Ballon d'Or.[7][8][9]

Letchkov went on to shine in the 1996 European Championships in England despite the failure of Bulgaria to reach the quarter finals: he played very well against Spain and Romania,[10][11] and producing a man-of-the-match performance[12] in the group B last match, against a strong French side. He went on to contribute greatly to his nation's successful qualification campaign for the 1998 World Cup championships. However his chance to play in the tournament was blocked by FIFA due to a little publicised contractual dispute with Beşiktaş (see also above in "Club").[13][14]


Letchkov took part in a TV series called Golden Boots in 1998 with various other footballers,[15] and in 2012 in the sport documentary called Stoichkov.[16] After his retirement from football he has successfully started a career as a businessman (owning luxury hotels and a football academy) and politician. He was elected Mayor of his home town, Sliven, in 2003 and reelected in 2007.

Since 2005, he has also been vice president of the Bulgarian Football Union.[17] In April 2010 he was removed from the mayorship by the Sliven district court after he was charged with official misconduct,[18] but the Burgas appellate court restored him to his position on 28 June 2010.[19][20] Letchkov was replaced by the new mayor of Sliven Kolyo Milev in the 2011 local elections, who outran him with 56,72% vs. 43,28% of the votes.[21] Many citizens stated that they had voted for a member of the opposing party to the ones they support only to remove Letchkov from his post.[22] Many of the major boulevards in the city were left dug up and in deep pot-holes for nearly two years due to "controversy" and a lawsuit between the company working on restructuring the city's water supply and the city council.[23] In contrast, while he was still mayor, the streets that lead to Letchkov's hotels in the city were reconstructed and refreshed with the addition of gardens and aesthetic sidewalks and street lighting. Other scandals constantly appear during his time as mayor including the disrespecting of journalists and police officers (showing the middle finger) that he is wanted by the police after fleeing from a traffic stop after throwing his documents at them.[24]

Career statistics[edit]


National team Season Apps Goals
Bulgaria 1989 1 0
1990 2 0
1991 3 0
1992 0 0
1993 6 1
1994 12 2
1995 7 1
1996 9 0
1997 4 1
1998 1 0
Total 45 5

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list Bulgaria's goal tally first.
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 13 October 1993 Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia  Austria 4–1 4–1 1994 World Cup qualifier
2. 26 June 1994 Soldier Field, Chicago  Greece 3–0 4–0 1994 World Cup
3. 10 July 1994 Giants Stadium, East Rutherford  Germany 2–1 2–1 1994 World Cup
4. 7 October 1995 Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia  Albania 1–0 3–0 Euro 1996 qualifier
5. 8 June 1997 Neftochimik Stadium, Burgas  Luxembourg 4–0 4–0 1998 World Cup qualifier



CSKA Sofia

OFC Sliven





  1. ^ Iordan LetchkovFIFA competition record
  2. ^ "Besiktas dispute threatens Letchkov World Cup place". Hurriyet Daily. 28 March 1998. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  3. ^ "Top Cat in the Butcher's Shop". Hurriyet Daily News. 13 February 2000. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  4. ^ Mamrud, Roberto (29 February 2012). "Bulgaria – Record International Players". RSSSF. Archived from the original on 14 June 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  5. ^ Haylett, Trevor (11 July 1994). "Holders beaten by bold Bulgaria: Stoichkov and Lechkov strike with two goals in three minutes to bring Germany's American journey to an abrupt end". The Independent. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  6. ^ Mifflin, Lawrie (14 July 1994). "Italians Save Their Best for the Cup's Next to Last". The New York Times. Associated Press. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  7. ^ "Article and final results on France Football web site" (in French). lequipe.fr. Archived from the original on 18 February 2009.
  8. ^ Pierrend, José Luis (7 April 2005). "European Footballer of the Year ("Ballon d'Or") 1994". RSSSF. Archived from the original on 16 January 2009. Retrieved 23 December 2008.
  9. ^ "European Footballer of the Year ("Ballon d'Or")". RSSSF. 18 December 2008. Archived from the original on 17 December 2008. Retrieved 24 December 2008.
  10. ^ "Spain - Bulgaria 1:1 (0:0)". oocities.org. 9 June 1996. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  11. ^ "Goal that might have been ends Romania's hopes". groups.google.com. 14 June 1996. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  12. ^ "France gain sweet revenge over Bulgarians". groups.google.com. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  13. ^ "Besiktas dispute threatens Letchkov World Cup place". Hurriyet Daily. 28 March 1998. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  14. ^ "Top Cat in the Butcher's Shop". Hurriyet Daily News. 13 February 2000. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  15. ^ "Golden Boots". imdb.com. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  16. ^ "Stoichkov". imdb.com. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  17. ^ "Лечков: Петев не е селекционер, аз го казвам! "Ще дадем пълна свобода и на новия треньор" (in Bulgarian). topsport.bg. 1 December 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
  18. ^ "Съдът свали кмета Йордан Лечков от поста" (in Bulgarian). dir.bg. 21 April 2010. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  19. ^ "Йордан Лечков пак е кмет на Сливен" (in Bulgarian). trud.bg. 29 June 2010. Archived from the original on 14 March 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  20. ^ "Bulgarians remain in shadow of class of '94". BBC Sport. 2 September 2010. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  21. ^ "Ген. Кольо Милев е новият кмет на Сливен" (in Bulgarian). dariknews.bg. 31 October 2011. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  22. ^ http://dariknews.bg/view_article.php?article_id=797108
  23. ^ "Дупка в Сливен погълна поредния автомобил" (in Bulgarian). btv.bg. 10 January 2011. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  24. ^ "Йордан Лечков показал среден пръст на полицаи, ще дава обяснения" (in Bulgarian). dariknews.bg. 23 March 2010. Retrieved 13 July 2014.

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