How did the fate of the Bulgarian national team players who played at the 1994 World Cup: Stoichkov, Kostadinov, Balakov, Lechkov, Sirakov


The Bulgarian national team became the main sensation of the 1994 World Cup. The daring gang of Dimitar Penev blocked the way to the final stage for the French (2: 0 at home and 2: 1 away), and then lit in the main draw of the tournament. In the group of “brothers” sensationally banged the silver medalist of the 1990 World Cup Argentina (already without Maradona, but with Simeone, Canija and Batistuta), and in the quarter finals – the reigning world champions, the Germans. Despite defeats in the semi-finals to Italy and in the match for third place to Sweden, the American campaign remains the best in the history of football in Bulgaria. Where are the heroes of that unforgettable galaxy now? Found out – we tell.

Borislav Mikhailov, 58 years old

Mikhailov played all seven matches in the tournament, conceding 11 goals. In the 1/8 finals against the Mexican national team (1: 1) Borislav pulled two hits in a penalty shootout, leading his team to the quarterfinals. Mikhailov ended his career at Swiss Zurich, after which he retrained as officials.

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From 2005 to 2019, the former goalkeeper headed the Bulgarian Football Union (BFS) until he was forced to resign by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. Mikhailov was presented with a scandal in the selection of Euro 2020: the match Bulgaria – England (0: 6) was interrupted twice due to the racist shouts of local fans to the guests. However, at the end of April this year, Mikhailov withdrew his resignation and after a year and a half returned to the leading post.

Trifon Ivanov, died at 50

In Bulgaria, Ivanov is still considered one of the best defenders in the history of the national team. At the tournament in the United States, he played six matches, and already in the qualifying game for the 1998 World Cup, he scored a decisive goal in Sofia against the Russian national team (1: 0), which led the team to the World Cup in France. For his long hair and brutal beard, Tryphon was nicknamed the Wolf. Although analogies with some pirate from Treasure Island are also quite appropriate.

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At the 1994 World Cup, Trifon represented the Swiss Xamax, and later moved to Austria, where he played for the Viennese Rapid, Austria and Favoriten AK, periodically returning to CSKA Sofia. After completing his career, Ivanov went into business, and in February 2016 he suddenly died of a heart attack.

Tsanko Tsvetanov, 51 years old

Largely thanks to the 1994 World Cup, the defender got the opportunity to try himself abroad. In 1995, Tsvetanov moved from Levski to German Waldhof, and from there, a season later, to Scottish Aberdeen. Back in Germany, Tsanko signed a contract with Energi from Cottbus, with whom he even played in the Bundesliga. But he ended his career, again, at home – in “Levski” and “Etara”.

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For several years Tsvetanov worked in the Bulgarian clubs at the headquarters of Stanimir Stoilov, who in the summer of 2014 invited him to the position of a trainer-methodologist in the Kazakhstani “Astana”. Now Tsvetanov is a member of the board of directors of Etyr, in which he managed to be both a player and a coach.

Petar Khubchev, 57 years old

Khubchev played for Hamburg, and then for five seasons defended the colors of Eintracht Frankfurt. In the same place, Petar began his coaching career, having briefly worked as an assistant in the first team.

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In 2003, he entered the coaching staff of the Bulgarian national team – at first he was an assistant to Plamen Markov, and then – Hristo Stoichkov. Subsequently, Petar coached the backup teams of Eintracht and Wolfsburg, as well as a number of Bulgarian clubs. Rose to the head coach of the national team, which he led for three years. Khubchev’s last place of work was the Sofia “Levski”. After being fired in 2020, he remains unemployed.

Jordan Lechkov, 53 years old

At the 1994 World Cup, the balding midfielder scored two goals, the most famous (perhaps in life) – against the Germans in the quarterfinals. It is ironic that it was in Germany that Lechkov was working at that time – in “Hamburg”. Then Jordan briefly played in Marseilles and Besiktas, after which he returned to his homeland in Sofia CSKA.

Having finished his career in his native “Sliven”, Lechkov smoothly moved from the field to the bench. In 2005 he became the vice-president of the Bulgarian Football Union. And while serving as mayor of Sliven, Lechkov in 2013 was sentenced to two years in prison for abuse of power and corruption. Already during the racist scandal provoked by the Bulgarian fans, Jordan took the place of the acting head coach of the national team after the departure of Krasimir Balakov. Recently, Lechkov was aiming for the post of BFS president, but lost a lawsuit for the right to run for this position.

Krasimir Balakov, 55 years old

The curly midfielder was an indispensable player for the 1994 World Cup. In addition to Sporting Lisbon, Balakov played successfully at Stuttgart, where he later began his coaching career. Then he led the Swiss Grasshopper and St. Gallen, the Croatian Hajduk and the German Kaiserslautern, with whom he thundered into the second Bundesliga.

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Returning to his homeland, Balakov coached Litex and Etar, and later briefly headed the Bulgarian national team, with which he got involved in a racist scandal, supporting the fans. “I saw the referee stop the game, but I must say that not only the Bulgarian fans, but also the English fans, who whistled and shouted during our anthem, behaved badly,” Balakov said.

Football and Nazism. For Russia, this is savagery
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Krasimir almost immediately resigned, and a year later he accepted CSKA 1948, which in 2020 rose from the second division to the first.

Emil Kostadinov, 53 years old

In America, Kostadinov did not score goals, but without his double in France, Bulgaria at the 1994 World Cup simply would not have happened. From Porto, with whom he won the Portuguese league twice in a row, Emil briefly moved to Deportivo, and then to Bayern. His career also included Turkish Fenerbahce, Mexican Tigres, Bulgarian CSKA and Mainz.

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Subsequently, Kostadinov worked in several positions in the structure of his native CSKA, and was also the technical director of the youth teams of Bulgaria. Now he holds the post of vice-president of BFS, replacing Yordan Lechkov in this post.

Hristo Stoichkov, 55 years old

In the 1990s, an explosive Bulgarian with an absurd character and a magical left was considered one of the best forwards on the planet. At the 1994 World Cup, the Barcelona striker scored six goals in seven matches and shared the Golden Boot with Russian striker Oleg Salenko. And at the end of the year, he received the Golden Ball in addition to it.

In the USA, Christo ended his career (Chicago Fire, DC United). Later he was the head coach of the Bulgarian national team, practiced in Spain and South Africa and even was an adviser to the president of “Rostov” Sergei Gorban, and now acts as an expert on TV.

Three years ago Stoichkov visited the Championship and told several little-known stories from his glorious biography. Check it out if you missed it.

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Stoichkov: Mourinho was a modest guy – not like van Gaal

Nasko Sirakov, 59 years old

Only the reserve goalkeeper Nikolov was older than Sirakov in Bulgaria’s bid for the 1994 World Cup. By the age of 32, the striker had played in Spain (Zaragoza, Espanyol) and France (Lens) and won five Bulgarian championships with Levski.

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In the group stage of the World Cup, Nasco scored an important goal against the Argentine national team, which led the Bulgarians to the playoffs. After the tournament in the USA, the striker returned to his homeland, where he played for Botev from Plovdiv and Sofia’s Slavia. Now Sirakov owns the Levski football club, with which he has achieved the greatest success as a player.

Ivaylo Yordanov, 53 years old

For 10 years at Sporting Lisbon, the striker has played almost 200 matches. There, Yordanov began his coaching career, becoming an assistant to the chief in Sporting B. Then Ivaylo was Stoichkov’s assistant in the Bulgarian national team, and in 2010 he entered the scout department of Litex from Lovech.

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Yordanov’s last place of work was the national youth team, in which he also worked as an assistant until he was fired last year. The pause in coaching practice is filled with comments in the press and on TV – a popular topic among football veterans.

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