WHY DIMITAR BERBATOV
Hello, my name is Dimitar Berbatov. I am running for president of the Bulgarian Football Union and I need your support because:
– bulgarian football is in desperate need for change.
– my team consists of proven professionals.
– ethic and transparency always come first for me.
At the end of the day, the choice is yours, to the clubs. It is about whether you want change and are willing to vote for it, or you are satisfied with the status quo and prefer everything to continue in the same old way.
“Football is in my blood ever since I was a little kid. My dad used to be a professional footballer and my granddad had also played when he was young. Perhaps my best childhood memories are from all those summer periods that I used to spend with a football in my feet in the village I was born in – Marikostinovo. When I was 10, I joined the academy of Pirin Blagoevgrad. And all I was dreaming for was one day to compete with the best.
I put in a lot of hard work, always believed in myself and managed to turn my dream into reality. My professional career began at CSKA Sofia and later on I had the privilege to play for Bayer Leverkusen, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Fulham, Monaco, PAOK and Kerala Blasters. When my career ended, I returned to the place where my family and I are feeling the happiest – in Bulgaria.
My experience abroad taught me a lot of things. I had the opportunity to see and understand how do clubs and football associations function in the most well-developed countries in Europe. I realised that there are two main things that are key for organisational success – the constant gaining of knowledge and the exceptional ability to work in a team. And when I say knowledge, I believe theory is of similar importance to practice. This is why I started to work on improving my education while I was still an active footballer.
In 2019, I graduated with a Master’s degree in Sports Management from the National Sports Academy (NSA) in Sofia, before obtaining a UEFA A coaching license a year later. My former teammates at the national team, Martin Petrov and Stiliyan Petrov, share my ideas and have also had the opportunity to work with some of the most outstanding professionals in European football. Therefore, I turned to them with the ambition for us to form a team of competent and honest people, together with whom we could give a head start to the change in Bulgarian football. Each and every member of our team today is a proven expert in their own field and more importantly – an excellent team player.
The joy that I felt (and still feel) while playing has always been the main motivation for me to keep playing football and trying to get better. Regardless of what level I used to play at or what challenges I had to overcome. My life experience has made me realise that there are lots of talented young people in Bulgaria who have the potential to be amongst the best and to feel joy from what they are good at. Unfortunately, the conditions for development here are often not good enough which poses an overwhelming challenge for these young people. And it is this sad fact that made me establish a foundation back in 2008 which would support Bulgarian talents.
My foundation’s focus is not limited to football only. It is concentrated into various different areas, such as arts, sports and science. I firmly believe that kids and youngsters can only be really good at what they do if they do it with a smile on their faces. They should decide what is best for themselves on their own, and is the task for us, the older and more experienced, to provide them with a suitable development environment.
In 2010, I announced my decision to retire from Bulgaria’s national team. Other successful Bulgarian sportsmen had done the same before me. Some did it after me. Back then, I was criticised by some part of the football community. The truth is that my retirement was one of toughest decisions I have ever taken. The reasons for it were both personal and also related to the way the national team and Bulgarian football in general were managed. When I retired, I promised that one day I will come back to Bulgaria because our football desperately needs a change. This day has now come. And if my retirement has disappointed anyone, my candidacy for president of the BFU is my way to make it up to them and to bring a better future to Bulgarian football with the help of my team.
I want our national team to play at the top level again and to make our fans proud. This would only be possible if the needs of anyone contributing to the development of domestic football get addressed – from the youngster who travels a few kilometres to training every single day to the chairman of a club from a large city. I am not a fan of sole and behind-the-scenes decision-making and downstream implementation. I want the management of the BFU to be as transparent as possible and to involve both large and small clubs, including women’s.
Only then can we cause a revolution and change Bulgarian football for the better. Together.“
Picture graduation: NSA – http://www.nsa.bg/bg/events/id,1189