When you think of Dimitar Berbatov, what should pop into your mind is the utter style and class in how the Bulgarian played the beautiful game. The 35-year-old played for a string of top teams, and in a way we as a collective community never really appreciated his phenomenal talents.
After dazzling for CSKA Sofia and Bayer Leverkusen, which included a Champions League Final appearance for the latter, Berbatov graced English football with his presence following a move to Tottenham Hotspur.
It’s fair to say nobody quite knew what they were getting with the forward, but we soon found out. He played with such fine elegance and composure that he made everything he did on the pitch look easy. It was sport turned into art as nobody could quite take their eyes off him whenever he was on the ball.
Honestly, if there was such a thing as football pornography this was it. Berba often featured in a deep-lying centre-forward role and excelled at holding the ball up before using his outstanding footballing intelligence to bring other players into the game as well as advancing the actual attack.
People who called him lazy literally did not know what they were talking about. He was able to turn on an engine whenever it was needed, whether it was to win the ball back or burst into the box. His stature alone allowed him to muscle players away in addition to keeping his calm.
Oh, and his touch. Bloody hell. The way he brought a ball down was unlike anybody we’ve ever seen in the game before, and he always did it with such a sense of “yeah, that just happened, so what?”. Impeccable.
Wherever the man went, he thrived. Berba was never really considered a superstar at Old Trafford despite some of the things he could do, but that didn’t stop him from furthering his legacy. It wouldn’t stop there either, as stints at the likes of Fulham and Monaco saw the legend of Berbatov grow with every performance whether it was the sublime way he brought the ball down or executing the calmest of finishes.
At times he had mannerisms that resembled the great Eric Cantona, and throughout his time both in England and abroad it truly became an honour to watch him play.
In an era of strikers who could do with a great role model, there is nobody better than the Bulgarian king that is Dimitar Berbatov.