February 8 – ‘Mad Bulgarian’ Born

Stoichkov_BulgariaWith a fiery temper and a deadly shot, Hristo Stoichkov was born on this day in soccer history in 1966.  The ‘Mad Bulgarian’ was one of the top footballers in the 1990’s with club success following from CSKA Sofia to Barcelona to Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire and for his national team.

Stoichkov’s temper and skills were evident from the beginning.  In 1985 while playing for CSKA Sofia he was suspended for fighting in the 1985 Bulgarian Cup final but after serving his suspension came back to win the European Golden Boot, scoring 38 goals in 30 games.

The goal outburst had teams looking to sign the powerful player and he eventually signed with Barcelona and helped the Catalan giants to one of their most successful stints winning the Primera Division four years in a row between 1991 and 1994 and the UEFA Champions League in 1992.

Stoichkov_FireIn 2000, Stoichkov joined Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire and played two seasons with the Fire before joining D.C. United.

Stoichkov was equally influential for the Bulgarian national team.  He scored 37 goals in 83 appearances and helped Bulgaria to a fourth place finish at the 1994 FIFA World Cup.  At that tournament he shared the Golden Boot Award with 6 goals and was named the 1994 European Footballer of the Year.

Pelé included Stoichkov as one of the 125 Greatest Living Footballers at a FIFA Awards Ceremony in 2004.

Soccer Birthdays

1966 – Hristo Stoichkov, Bulgarian footballer
1968 – Joy Fawcett, US Women Soccer player
1970 – John Filan, Australian footballer
1974 – Ulises de la Cruz, Ecuadorian footballer
1980 – Stephen Wright, English footballer

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