This day in football history
On 8 February 1966, European Footballer of the Year and World Cup Golden Boot winner Hristo Stoichkov was born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
A winger/forward, he first rose to international prominence with CSKA Sofia, where his 38 goals in the 1989–90 season made him Europe’s highest scorer. But he also created a reputation as a loose cannon, receiving a brief suspension from football for his involvement in a fight during the 1985 Bulgarian Cup.
In 1990, he moved to Barcelona. He soon became a fan favorite as Barça enjoyed one of their most successful periods, winning five La Liga titles (including four straight from 1991–94) and the 1992 European Cup. Guiding Bulgaria to the third-place playoff match at the 1994 World Cup, he contributed six goals to finish as the tournament’s joint top scorer. He won the Ballon d’Or that year as Europe’s greatest player.
But his hot temper followed him to Barcelona and, in his first season there, he received another brief suspension for stamping on a referee’s foot. He eventually left Barça in 1995 and started a wandering journey that included stays with Parma (1995–96), Barcelona again (1996–98), CSKA Sofia again (1998), Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr (1998), and J-League side Kashiwa Reysol (1998–99).
In 2000, he moved to the United States to play two season with the Chicago Fire and one, his last, with DC United. During that last season, he again stirred up controversy by breaking the leg of a player from American University during a scrimmage with DC United, receiving a suspension and $2,000 fine.