The Manchester United legend speaks on his career and his views on Ralf Rangnick in an exclusive chat with Khel Now.
Dimitar Berbatov still looks like he can score a goal, or two, at Old Trafford every passing weekend. As he joins the Zoom call with a background decorated with trophies, it becomes evident how illustrious his career really was.
Joining Manchester United at the start of the 2008/09 season, the Bulgarian was already a recognized finisher. He joined Tottenham Hotspur after a fruitful time at Bayer Leverkusen for a €16m fee, making him the most expensive Bulgarian player of all-time. Despite having a stellar first season under Sir Alex Ferguson, it was from his second season that he met expectations. At his prime, he rocked the Theater of Dreams with his close finishes in an effortless manner.
Berbatov re-visited a few of those instances, from his time at Old Trafford, in an exclusive conversation with Khel Now. While he recalled the memories from his time that made him the greatest Bulgarian to grace the sport, a perennial smile was visible on his face.
His most memorable moments
“My favorite individual moment was when I made that assist to (Cristiano) Ronaldo and I invented the ‘Berba Spin,” Dimitar Berbatov said, reminiscing his best moment as a Manchester United player.
It is worth noting that a striker of Berbatov’s goalscoring prowess, chose an assist as his best individual moment on the pitch. Consider the splendid moments he produced for the Red Devils – from scoring a hat-trick against Liverpool with an overhead-kick to netting five goals in a single match against Blackburn Rover – and it becomes a pick to think on.
“Assisting others was enjoyable at times,” said the Bulgarian. “The moment I turned with the ball, I heard the fans at Old Trafford go “Woah!” I knew I did something special,” he explained about his unique pick.
However, the 41-year-old does not have particular picks. Rather, Berbatov’s picks are more general, yet the reasons are nuanced.
“I’ll answer that as a striker,” Dimitar Berbatov started talking about his favorite opponent with a rather indelible approach. “It doesn’t matter who you score against, or how you score it. A goal is a goal. That’s why I love all the goals that I scored.”
Out of the 216 goals he scored throughout his career – 56 came for Manchester United – however, he enjoyed scoring some against select clubs. “When you score and win against the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool or Chelsea, it automatically becomes more special. It’s because you know you’ve won against a good team,” he added.
But, the former Tottenham Hotspur forward is quick to mention the wins against smaller and gritty sides. He’s quick to state “last-minute one-nil” wins’ importance and acknowledge the sides’ commitment on the pitch.
Dimitar Berbatov answers the “favorite teammate” question in a similar way. “I was always appreciative of everyone,” he said. “The first thing that I’d do after scoring a goal was to look for the player that gave me the ball and celebrate with him.”
On Ralf Rangnick
The Bulgarian’s passion remains the same when he talks about the present state of Manchester United. Drawing on his experiences from his time at Bayer Leverkusen, Berbatov places his faith in Ralf Rangnick, yet considers this “re-build” a long way forward.
“It’s not an easy job to replace someone like Sir Alex Ferguson after 25 years,” said Dimitar Berbatov. “I know how they (the Germans) like to approach football. They demand discipline on the pitch. I think we’re in a good position to attack the top four with him. It’s not going to be easy, but with two games in hand, we should be thinking about that.”
Quipping about instances when football got “cruel” to him, Dimitar Berbatov mentions three Champions League final losses. Two of those came during his years at Manchester United – a club he considers belongs to the top and should be back there soon.
“Each and every player should believe that he’s a leader and that he needs to show it on the pitch,” Berbatov added about the ways the Red Devils can get back to the top.