"Hristo Stoichkov. The Story" reveals unknown facts from legendary football star’s biography

Photo: BGNES

At the beginning of the week, football legend Hristo Stoichkov officially presented his biography book in Sofia. It is titled "Hristo Stoichkov. The Story" and was co-written together with journalist Vladimir Pamukov. Stoichkov and Pamukov pointed out the book did not skip details and truths about the most successful Bulgarian footballer’s career, but actually revealed many previously unknown facts.

"I have made many mistakes and they are also described in the book. I have not skipped the good or the bad things. If one starts to change at 53, it means they have not achieved anything. I will not be changing," winner of the Golden Shoe (1990) and Golden Ball (1994) awards said. In the book there are joyful and curious moments described, as well as moments of difficulties and sadness.

"It was a great pleasure for me to recall the events of the past together with Stoichkov," Vladimir Pamukov told the guests. "It is easy to work with Stoichkov. All the things that are in the book are written as they actually happened, along with all the mistakes. Our goal was to show every boy in Bulgaria that one can become number one in the world."

International football referee, Urizar Azpitarte arrived especially for the presentation of the book in Sofia. "It was hard to be a judge when Hristo Stoichkov was playing," Azpitarte jokingly said and told some of the interesting stories related to the atmosphere of Camp Nou and the fiery temperaments of Stoichkov and Johan Cruyff. In 1990, during a match between Barcelona and Real (Madrid), tensions rose and Stoichkov stepped on Azpitarte’s foot. The player received a red card and was subsequently banned for 6 months from playing football, which was a true nightmare for him. Later Stoichkov and Azpitarte became friends and now the referee admits he was lucky for the chance to get to know the Bulgarian not only as a fiery player, but also as a good-hearted and generous man. During the promotion of Stoichkov’s biography, Azpitarte gave him an unexpected gift – on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Basque football referee collegium, he handed him a yellow and a red card. In turn the legendary Bulgarian footballer gave Azpitarte the football shoes he wore when he stepped on the referee’s foot 28 years ago.

Three Presidents of Bulgaria also came to the book promotion. Petar Stoyanov, Georgi Parvanov and Rosen Plevneliev personally congratulated Hristo Stoichkov and thanked him for the joy he brought to the Bulgarian people. Many of the sports legends of Bulgaria and friends of Stoichkov were also among the guests and dozens of fans got autographs from the star.

In his characteristic straight-forward style Stoichkov commented on Bulgaria's intentions to apply for host of the World Cup in 2030 together with Greece, Serbia and Romania. The news of the planned joint candidacy has attracted attention of media across the Balkans. On the question of Bulgarian National Television reporters about his views on these plans, Hristo Stoichkov replied laconically that this country had absolutely no chance and that such an idea would never be realized.

English: Alexander Markov

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