Former FC Barcelona’s ‘Dream Team’ player Hristo Stoichkov has been linked with a coaching job with Bulgarian champions Litex Lovech, reported the state’s news agency (BTA) on Sunday. He will be replacing interim coach Atanas Dzhambazki, who himself had only taken over from the departing Luboslav Penev, now manager of the national team.
Stoichkov, who turns 46 next month, had a glittering career as a player, and is especially well remembered for his exploits with Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona team that won the Spanish title four times in succession in the early 1990s.
In 1994, he was named the European Footballer of the Year, becoming the first and only Bulgarian to have won it.
But Stoichkov has not been able to match those achievements in his managerial career. His record as a coach is rather chequered. A three-year spell with the Bulgarian national team ended in failure to reach the 2006 World Cup finals before a short stint at Spanish club Celta Vigo preceding that. In 2009, he joined South African club Mamelodi Sundowns and led them to second place in the league but resigned at the end of the season after failing to win a contract extension.
BTA said Stoichkov, who has never coached a club in his native country, had agreed a deal with Litex and is expected to arrive in Lovech on Friday.
Meanwhile, Gabriel Milito, currently in the twilight of his career with Argentinean club Independiente, said in an interview that should he feel like retiring when his contract expires in 2014, he is considering taking up coaching as a profession, and he named Pep Guardiola as his inspiration.
“I may not have played much under him in recent times but he is a coach who certainly influenced me,” said Milito. “I was fortunate to have very good coaches in my career, like Jose (Pekerman), Cesar (Menotti), the Tolo Gallego, Bielsa, Ramon, but Pep is the best of them all. For me, he’s the secret to Barcelona’s great success.”
Praising his former coach, Milito added, “Despite everything that the team has won in recent years, he has the formula to prevent someone from relaxing. In every talk that he gave, he’s able to transmit tremendous confidence to the team. He is a coach who is never content and that attitude sticks with the players.
“He thoroughly analyses opponents a lot through videos, and those who think that Barca’s success is merely down to creativity are wrong. Even Messi has to fulfill certain tactical movements when the team loses the ball,” said the player, laying out his reasons as to why.