Hristo Stoichkov

Hristo Stoichkov

Stoichkov on his 50th birthday exibition match
Personal information
Full name Hristo Stoichkov
Date of birth (1966-02-08) 8 February 1966
Place of birth Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Playing position Forward
Youth career
1977–1981 Maritsa Plovdiv
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1982–1984 Hebros Harmanli 32 (14)
1984–1990 CSKA Sofia 119 (81)
1990–1995 Barcelona 149 (77)
1995–1996 Parma 23 (5)
1996–1998 Barcelona 26 (7)
1998 CSKA Sofia 4 (1)
1998 Al-Nassr 2 (1)
1998–1999 Kashiwa Reysol 27 (12)
2000–2002 Chicago Fire 51 (17)
2003 D.C. United 21 (5)
Total 454 (220)
National team
1986–1999 Bulgaria 83 (37[1])
Teams managed
2004–2007 Bulgaria
2007 Celta Vigo
2009–2010 Mamelodi Sundowns
2012–2013 Litex Lovech
2013 CSKA Sofia

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgarian: Христо Стоичков, pronounced [ˈxristo stoˈitʃkof]; 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[2] and is widely considered the greatest Bulgarian footballer of all time.[3][4] 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.[5]

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. Cruyff was largely instrumental in bringing him to Barcelona where he quickly developed into one of the most prolific forwards in the world.

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.[6] In his playing career he was nicknamed The Dagger (Камата).

Club career

Early career

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.[7]

Stoichkov began his football career playing for hometown club Maritsa Plovdiv at the age of eleven. In 1982 he moved to Hebros Harmanli, scoring 14 goals in the third level of Bulgarian football.

CSKA Sofia

In early 1985, Stoichkov joined 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 1985 Bulgarian Cup Final, which resulted in an original lifelong ban, later reduced to a year suspension.[8] He made his comeback for CSKA on 30 April 1986, in a 3–1 away win over Sliven in a game of the Cup of the Soviet Army. On 21 May, Stoichkov opened the scoring in the final of tournament against Lokomotiv Sofia, which CSKA won 2–0.[9]

He continued his progress during 1986–87, becoming a regular in the left side of CSKA's attack. Stoichkov collected his first A Group title winner's medal at the end of the season. He scored 6 league goals that season.

Stoichkov managed to win the European Golden Boot with CSKA by scoring 38 goals in 30 games during the 1989–90 A Group season.[6]


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,[10] 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 División four years in a row between 1991 and 1994 and the European Cup after defeating Sampdoria in 1992.[11] During his stay in Barcelona, he became an idol for the club's fans, and played in tandem with Romário in attack.[12] 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.[6]

Later career

Stoichkov then had a short spell in Italy with Parma, and later played for Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr, and subsequently in Japan with Kashiwa Reysol, before finishing his career in the United States with the Chicago Fire and D.C. United.[6]

International career

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.[13]

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.[6]

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.[6]

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.[6] Subsequently he was the coach of the Bulgarian national team from 2004 to April 2007.[6]

Style of play

"That season [1993–94] Romário and Stoichkov were a force of nature, blowing everyone and everything to bits."

— Football writer Sid Lowe on the strike partnership at Barcelona.[12]

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.[14][15] 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.[16][17] 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.[18][19] The top goalscorer at the 1994 FIFA World Cup, he was also notable at taking free kicks and penalties,[20] as well as being a very good crosser and passer of the ball.[21]

Despite his talent, Stoichkov was criticised for his work-rate at times,[22] 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.[23] 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.[24] 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.[25]


Stoichkov features in EA Sports' FIFA video game series; he was included in the FIFA 15 Ultimate Team Legends.[26][27][28]

Managing career

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.[29] 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.[30]

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.[31]

On 29 June 2009, Stoichkov moved to Mamelodi Sundowns, where he replaced Henri Michel.[32] 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.[33]

In 2011, Vietnam Football Federation invited Stoichkov to become the head manager of Vietnam national football team.[34] In the 2011–12 season he worked as an advisor at Russian team FC Rostov.[35]

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.[36] In June 2013, Stoichkov was named the manager of Bulgarian powerhouse CSKA Sofia,[37] but quit one month later after he lost faith in the troubled club.

Career statistics

Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Bulgaria League Bulgarian Cup League Cup Europe Total
1984–85CSKA SofiaA Group110110
Spain League Copa del Rey Copa de la Liga Europe Total
1990–91FC BarcelonaLa Liga241462-853821
Italy League Coppa Italia League Cup Europe Total
1995–96ParmaSerie A23520-52307
Spain League Copa del Rey Copa de la Liga Europe Total
1996–97FC BarcelonaLa Liga22761-60348
Bulgaria League Bulgarian Cup League Cup Europe Total
1997–98CSKA SofiaA Group4141
Saudi Arabia League Crown Prince Cup League Cup Asia Total
Japan League Emperor's Cup J.League Cup Asia Total
1998Kashiwa ReysolJ1 League1681000-178
United States League Open Cup League Cup North America Total
2000Chicago FireMajor League Soccer189312110
2003D.C. United21531246
Country Bulgaria 157961814-2516200126
Spain 175843112-4822254118
Italy 23520-52307
Saudi Arabia 2121
Japan 27121011-2913
United States 7222948126
Total 4542206130117840594291


Bulgaria national team

Managerial statistics

As of 8 July 2013.
Team From To Competition Record
G W D L Win % GF GA GD
Bulgaria 15 July 2004 10 April 2007 Competitive 15 6 6 3 40.00 24 20 +4
Friendlies[nb 1] 14 7 5 2 50.00 24 14 +10
Total 29 13 11 5 44.83 48 34 +14
Celta Vigo April 2007 8 October 2007 League 16 7 1 8 43.75 18 22 –4
Copa del Rey 1 0 0 1 00.00 1 2 –1
Total 17 7 1 9 41.18 19 24 –5
Mamelodi Sundowns 29 June 2009 16 March 2010 Premier Soccer League 30 16 8 6 53.33 43 24 +19
Total 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
Bulgarian Cup 8 5 1 2 62.50 14 4 +10
Total 54 30 10 14 55.56 103 42 +61
CSKA Sofia 5 June 2013 8 July 2013 Bulgarian A Professional Football Group 0 0 0 0 ! 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0 ! 0 0 0
Career totals League 92 48 18 26 52.17 150 84 +66
Cup 9 5 1 3 55.56 15 6 +9
Competitive 15 6 6 3 40.00 24 20 +4
Friendlies 14 7 5 2 50.00 24 14 +10
Total 130 66 30 34 50.77 213 124 +89




CSKA Sofia[6]
Chicago Fire






Mamelodi Sundowns


Further honours


  1. Includes Kirin Cup.


  1. Stoichkov: A gifted bad boy.
  2. "HRISTO STOICHKOV -". Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  3. *** Bulgarian Sport : HRISTO STOICHKOV *** – Catalog for Bulgarian sport. Retrieved on 10 June 2013.
  4. Football Legend Stoichkov Backs Bulgaria Ruling Party Presidential Hopeful. – Sofia News Agency (17 September 2011). Retrieved on 10 June 2013.
  5. "Pele's list of the greatest". BBC Sport. 4 March 2004. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 "Stoichkov: A gifted bad boy". Retrieved 18 March 2015
  7. Earls, John. "When it comes to football trivia, there's only one man who really knows the score: Statto.". The People. Retrieved 10 April 2015
  8. First XI: A burning hatred – ESPN FC. (13 October 2011). Retrieved on 10 June 2013.
  9. "Шампионски гол в дъжда прави Ицо символ на победата" (in Bulgarian). 23 March 2016.
  10. The singular genius of the mad boy Hristo. (16 April 2007)
  11. "Barcelona v Milan revisited: The night in 1994 the Dream died". The Guardian. 10 April 2015.
  12. 1 2 Lowe, Sid (2013). "Fear and Loathing in La Liga: The True Story of Barcelona and Real Madrid". p. 288. Random House
  13. "Hristo Stoichkov - Goals in International Matches". RSSSF. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  14. "CALCIO DAL MONDO" [Football from the World]. (in Italian). La Repubblica. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  15. Marino Bortoletti. "STOICHKOV, Hristo". Enciclopedia Treccani. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  16. "Hristo Stoichkov". Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  17. "Manchester United v Barcelona: six of their best showdowns". The Telegraph. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  18. "POTENZA DI HRISTO SOLO UN ASSAGGIO" [Just a taste of Hristo's power]. (in Italian). La Repubblica. 29 July 1995. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  19. Leonardo Coen (16 May 1994). "L' ORA DELL' IMPLACABILE" [The hour of the unstoppable]. (in Italian). La Repubblica. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  20. Fulvio Bianchi (12 July 1994). "STOICHKOV, L' ADORABILE SPACCONE" [Stoichkov, the adorable boaster]. (in Italian). La Repubblica. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  21. Marco Jackson (27 March 2015). "Italy v Bulgaria: No longer the fantasista football of old". Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  22. "L' ANNO DI HRISTO, GENIO DEI PIGRI" [The year of Hristo, Genius of the lazy]. (in Italian). La Repubblica. 20 December 1994. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  23. Jeff Wallenfeldt (2 May 2015). "Hristo Stoichkov". Encyclopaedia Brittanica. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  24. Goff, Steven (9 October 2007). "AU Player Settles With Club, MLS, Stoitchkov". The Washington Post. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  25. Goff, Steven (27 February 2007). "Player Hurt in United Scrimmage in '03 Seeks Damages". The Washington Post.
  26. "FIFA 15 Player Ratings - FIFA Ultimate Team Legends". EA Sports. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  27. "FIFA 15 New Legends Ratings & Stats". Ultimate Team. Retrieved 10 April 2015
  28. "Top 5 Legends FIFA 15" Retrieved 9-5-2015.
  29. Petrov steps back from Bulgaria. UEFA (12 October 2006).
  30. Petrov returns to Bulgaria fold. UEFA (19 March 2007).
  31. Niemann, Christoph. (30 May 2013) Report: Celta Vigo fires coach Hristo Stoitchkov –. International Herald Tribune. Retrieved on 10 June 2013.
  32. "Stoichkov named coach of South Africa's Sundowns". ESPN. London. 29 June 2009.
  33. Hristo Stoitchkov not to renew contract. (17 March 2010).
  34. "Stoichkov considering Vietnam offer". ESPN. 10 April 2015.
  35. "Stoichkov parts company with Rostov". Goal. 10 April 2015.
  36. "Стоичков е треньор №1 в "А" група, втори е Стоилов, а трети – Петев". Sofia. 18 May 2013.
  37. "Фенове искат да видят как Ицо взима акциите" (in Bulgarian). 2013-06-30. Retrieved 2015-10-19.
  38. Hristo Stoichkov – Goals in International Matches. (22 January 2009). Retrieved on 10 June 2013.
  39. Roberto Di Maggio (25 June 2015). "Bulgaria - List of Topscorers". RSSSF. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  40. Roberto Di Maggio; Roberto Mamrud; Jarek Owsianski; Davide Rota (11 June 2015). "Champions Cup/Champions League Topscorers". RSSSF. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  41. 1 2 José Luis Pierrend (6 March 2012). ""Onze Mondial" Awards: Onze de Onze 1976-2011". RSSSF. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  42. "Award rounds off Romario's perfect year". Retrieved 24 November 2015
  43. 1 2 José Luis Pierrend (28 January 2016). "FIFA Awards". RSSSF. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  44. "WORLD CUP '94; Romario and Baggio Among First All-Star Cast". The New York Times. 16 July 1994. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  45. Emilio Pla Diaz (21 January 2016). "Spain - Footballer of the Year". RSSSF. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  46. "IFFHS: Former Results". IFFHS. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  47. "EURO '96". Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  48. Stoyan Georgiev (21 January 2011). "Stoichkov, one of a kind for Bulgaria". Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  49. Christopher Davies (5 March 2004). "Pele open to ridicule over top hundred". The Telegraph. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  50. "World Soccer Players of the Century". World Soccer. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  51. "Legends". Golden Foot. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  52. "Hristo Stoichkov and Katlego Mphela were awarded PSL Coach and Player of the month". 9 October 2009. Retrieved 15 January 2010.
  53. Golden Players take centre stage. UEFA (29 November 2003).

Media related to Hristo Stoichkov at Wikimedia Commons

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Trifon Ivanov
Bulgaria captain
Succeeded by
Krassimir Balakov
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