Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dimitar Berbatov

Dimitar Ivanov Berbatov (Bulgarian(born 30 January 1981) is a Bulgarian footballer who plays as a forward for Manchester United. He captained the Bulgarian national team from 2006 to 2010, and is its all-time leading goalscorer and has also won the Bulgarian Footballer of the Year a record seven times, surpassing the number of wins by Hristo Stoichkov.Born in Blagoevgrad, Berbatov started out with home-town club Pirin before joining CSKA Sofia as a 17-year-old in 1998. He was signed by Bayer Leverkusen of Germany in January 2001 and played in his first Champions League final 18 months later, coming on as a substitute in the 2002 UEFA Champions League Final, which Leverkusen lost 2–1 to Real Madrid. After five-and-a-half years with Leverkusen, he joined English club Tottenham Hotspur in July 2006, where he spent two years before moving to Manchester United. He played in his second Champions League final in 2009, during his side's 2–0 defeat against FC Barcelona. Berbatov is the first non-Englishman in Premier League history to have scored five goals in a single match, having done so in Manchester United's 7–1 win over Blackburn Rovers in November 2010.Berbatov was born to Ivan and Margarita Berbatov, both themselves professional athletes: Ivan was a footballer with Pirin and CSKA Sofia,while Margarita was a handball player. His favoured team was the Italian club Milan, and he consequently modelled himself on Marco van Basten, the Dutch forward for that team. However, the 1996 European Championship, held in England, gave Berbatov a new role model; the 15-year-old Berbatov began to look up to the English front man Alan Shearer, who played for Newcastle United. Berbatov's mother later spoke of her son's teenage dream of playing for Newcastle United, and said that his admiration for Shearer was such that, during these years, he slept in a Newcastle shirt1
Berbatov began his youth career with his home-town club, Pirin, where his talent was spotted and he scored 77 goals for their reserve team in 92 appearances. He made nine appearances and scored two goals in their first team.Berbatov joined his father's former club, CSKA Sofia, after being spotted by scout and manager Dimitar Penev in 1998. He made his début during the 1998–99 season, at the age of 18, and won the Bulgarian Cup with CSKA at the end of that season. Berbatov's first game in Europe came in September 1999, in a 2–0 defeat against his childhood team Newcastle United; it was during that season, 1999–2000, that he started to make his name, scoring 14 goals in 27 league matches.At the age of 18, Berbatov was kidnapped following a training session by Bulgarian gangster Georgi Iliev, who unsuccessfully attempted to convince the young forward to sign for his own club, Lokomotiv Plovdiv. Berbatov nearly signed for Italian Serie A side Lecce in June 2000, even passing a medical before the move collapsed at the last minute A run of nine goals in eleven games during the first half of the 2000–01 season was enough to persuade German club Bayer Leverkusen to pay €1.3 million to sign a four-year contract with Berbatov on 1 January 2001.Berbatov played for the club's reserve team in the Oberliga Nordrhein at first, and scored six goals in seven appearances before being promoted to the first team.He made his team début in a 4–3 pre-season friendly win against D.C. United, scoring a hat-trick. His league début for the first team came on 10 February 2001, replacing Ulf Kirsten in a 4–1 victory against 1. FC Köln.Berbatov found himself being used as a substitute by manager Berti Vogts, making six appearances and scoring no goals as Leverkusen finished fourth and qualified for the following season's UEFA Champions League.During the next season, Berbatov scored 16 goals and made important contributions to the club's Champions League campaign,
scoring in a 4–2 win over English club Liverpool in the quarter-finals as Leverkusen eventually reached the final. In the final itself, against Real Madrid, Berbatov came on as a substitute for Thomas Brdarić after 38 minutes before Leverkusen lost 2–1. Leverkusen also finished as runners-up in the Fußball-Bundesliga behind Borussia Dortmund, and lost the DFB–Pokal final 4–2 to Schalke 04, thus completing an unusual treble of runners-up finishes.Berbatov established his place as the first-choice forward during the next season, 2002–03, and netted his team's goal against Manchester United on 24 September 2002, during a 2–1 defeat for Leverkusen. He scored 16 goals in 24 league appearances during the 2003–04 season, before the following two seasons saw the Bulgarian raise awareness of his talent by netting 46 goals in the league over the two seasons and five times in the 2004–05 Champions League. During this time, he was linked with numerous foreign clubs, including Celtic, Atlético Madrid and Liverpool.
Tottenham Hotspur reached an agreement with Bayer Leverkusen for Berbatov's transfer in May 2006; the fee of €16 million (£10.9 million) made him the most expensive Bulgarian footballer ever.After he was granted a British work permit, the transfer was completed on 1 July 2006 After Tottenham lost 2–0 to Bolton Wanderers in Berbatov's first league match in England on 19 August 2006,he scored his first goal for Spurs three days later in a 2–0 home victory against Sheffield United.
Berbatov's seven goals in eight European games during his début season for Tottenham helped the club to secure top spot during the UEFA Cup's group stage,making his second European debut in October 2006, scoring a goal during a 2–0 victory against Beşiktaş.He made a total of eight matches, scoring seven goals as Tottenham were eliminated 3–4 on aggregate against Sevilla. However, he took a while to adapt to the Premier League, taking a few months to regain the league form he had shown at Leverkusen. He gave a strong performance against Wigan Athletic in November 2006, scoring one and creating the other two in a 3–1 win for Spurs,and began to score regularly.He scored his first FA Cup goals on 18 February 2007 when he came on as a second-half substitute in a 4–0 win over Fulham and netted two of the four goals.Berbatov and Spurs team-mate Robbie Keane were named joint winners of the Premier League Player of the Month award for April 2007, and in doing so became the first players to share the award since February 2004.
He ended the 2006–07 season with 12 goals in 33 appearances in the Premier League, and won both the Tottenham Hotspur Player of the Season award and a place in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year.Berbatov scored his first Premier League hat-trick on 29 December 2007, scoring four in a 6–4 win over Reading. His first cup final for Tottenham came on 24 February 2008 in the Football League Cup; Spurs faced Chelsea at Wembley Stadium. Berbatov scored an equalising penalty as Tottenham went on to win the game 2–1 after extra time. He ended the season with 15 league goals. Before the next season, 2008–09, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was quoted by newspapers as saying he expected to sign Berbatov; Tottenham submitted a complaint to the Premier League alleging that Manchester United had broken league rules.Ongoing rumours of a substantial bid by Ferguson's club unsettled him, and Berbatov was dropped for the games against Sunderland and Chelsea during August, the season's first month.
Berbatov moved to Manchester United on 1 September 2008, costing the club £30.75 million and signing a four-year contract.Tottenham had also accepted a bid from Manchester City, but Berbatov claimed after signing for United that he "would not even have thought about Manchester City".Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, meanwhile, accused Tottenham of having used the complaint to the Premier League to negotiate a higher price for Berbatov from Manchester United.

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