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Famous Bulgarians Profiles:

Thanks to "Wonderland Bulgaria"

"Krasimir Balakov is the best play-maker in Europe", said of him Joachim Loew, trainer of Stuttgart to the Bild am Sonntag magazine in 1997. The sports media in Germany are still more generous in their praises of the 32-year old Bulgarian national football player. His class is really so high that the February attempt of the press to involve him in a conflict with the managers of his club ended by an invitation on the part of club president Meier-Vorfelder to Krasimir to hold a trainer's post in "Stuttgart" after his contract has expired in 2002.
Even before his 17th birthday, Balakov set on the way that led him to the international football fields: in 1983 the managers of Etar, Veliko Tirnovo transferred him from the under-21 set into the adult team of the Club. In May 1983 Krasimir played his first A-division match and a short time later his first international game - against his future club Sporting, Lisbon. For the 8 years he played for Etar Balakov scored 35 goals in 142 A-division matches and still other 11 in 49 tournament matches. He played in the Bulgarian Olympic team and in the Bulgarian national under-21 team.

Krasimir BalakovWith his Brazilian technique, Prussian body building and Slav imagination, though, the twenty-three year old football player did not even dare to dream of playing abroad. His ambitions did not go any further than the national favourites - the Sofia clubs of CSKA and LEVSKI. Beyond any expectation, however, at the very end of 1990 Balakov did something unthinkable at that time - ignoring the two national capital "majors", he made an agreement to be transferred straight to the Portuguese Club SPORTING, Lisbon, from the following January. In July 1993 the management of the Club renewed his contract for the next four years. The reputation of this Bulgarian player rose still higher after his bronze medal in the USA'94 and his placement in the World Cup Dream Team. Contrary to logic, however, during the next season things in the Club did not go well for him - Queiros, the trainer kept on experimenting, moving him from position to position, his play was inefficient, a confrontation was imminent. Simultaneously, SPORTING, being in a financial trouble at the time and wondering how to fill up its empty "cash-boxes", announced Balakov's transfer for US$ 7.5 million, and the newspapers began selling Krasimir to teams in any and all places on the five continents. At this particular moment, taking advantage of the situation, STUTTGART made a winning selection and financial move. In March 1995 the Germans bought Balakov from SPORTING for DM 3.7 million. The contract with the Bulgarian was for a period of two years during which he was to be paid DM 1 million per year. In July Krasimir left the Lisbon club, for which he had played 134 championship matches, scoring 42 goals, plus 13 matches for the Portuguese Cup and 13 - for the UEFA Cup, and moved to the capital of Swabia. Balakov's ambitious work during his first season there (in December 1995 he was at the top in the Bundesleague Best Football Player List), his play showing up against the background of the colourless Bulgarian participation in the European Finals in England'96, made him attractive to the leading German clubs. In an effort to eliminate competition, in November 1996, eight months before the term of his contract expired, STUTTGART offered Krasimir a new one.

According to this contract, the play-maker was obliged to stay with the club till July 2000, being guaranteed a total amount of DM 10 million. This places him as the 6th highest paid player in the whole Bundesleague.

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