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The authentic Berbatov T-shirt cost £67 but was selling like hot bread at the Manchester United Megastore! I admit, I got a much cheaper version from a street vendor.

My UK travels have kept me away from my blog for too long! But don’t think that I’m not observing the culture and taking mental notes about future articles!

I just had a lovely sunny weekend visiting a friend at the University of Manchester. Thanks god she’s a sports fan or I would’ve overlooked visiting the famous Manchester United Stadium and would’ve missed out on a great opportunity to see probably the currently strongest Bulgarian brand in action!

In a previous post, I wrote about who Dimitar Berbatov is and why Bulgarians are so proud of the Man United striker. But now, I actually witnessed that he has the potential to become an endorsement superstar (although of much lesser proportion) similar to Tiger Woods or David Beckham.

Among the merchandise, the highest proportion of course was dedicated to the team as a whole (Man United has always tried to put the spotlight on the collective rather than the individual, even during the time of Beckham), but surprisingly, probably the next most-popular images were those of Owen and Berbatov. It felt so good to see scarves, mugs, t-shirts, and posters with his handsome face and resonant name!

I learned that the Bulgarians at the University of Manchester are constantly buying Berbatov merchandise and shipping it to friends at home.

Berba is certainly the most successful brand Bulgaria has exported in the recent years. He is not only a good player, but also a celebrity whose good looks and status of a fashion icon are additionally enhanced by his socially responsible initiatives(the Dimitar Berbatov Foundation for the development of children’s talent). This winning combination has won him loyal fans from all over the world.

However, so far, he seems to be endorsing mainly products and services in Bulgaria: he has been the face of UNICEF Bulgaria, First Investment Bank, Vivatel telecom company, and more (follow the links to the ads). His image is one of the hard-working and successful man. But on a global scale, Berbatov is still only part of the Manchester United brand. His name is rarely evoked outside the Man United context, and he hasn’t really moved beyond endorsing his team’s corporate  sponsors like AON or Turkish Airlines (check out these cool commercials). From what I saw in Manchester, I’d like to think that he could further leverage his potential.

We randomly met these guys who had flown from Sofia just to see the Man U vs Fulham game and cheer for their idol.

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Dimitar Berbatov after a goal for Manchester United

I can’t be in England and not talk about football! And trust me, there is a strong link between great European football and Bulgaria!

Who will be the Premier League Player of the Year this season? According to a poll from The Sun, it is going to be Dimitar Berbatov! He earned 86% of the votes against other top British footballers Carlos Tevez, Samir Nasri, Rafael van der Vaart, Charlie Adam, and Gareth Bale.

The Sun called Dimitar Berbatov “THE Bulgarian striker” of Manchester United. So far this season, Berba has played in 19 games and scored 17 goals, including a phenomenal goal against Liverpool, which will very probably become “the goal of the season.” See his season statistics from The Sun.

Berbatov: a footballer, a philanthropist, and a great Bulgarian

In his native Bulgaria, Berbatov is something of a god. He was our Number One Player seven times. From 2006 to 2010, he was captain of the national team, where he scored the record 47 goals.

During his international career, he played for Bayer Leverkusen and Tottenham, and is currently Manchester United’s most celebrated striker. Berba is one of the four players in the history of the Premier League to have scored five goals in a single match.

Berbatov was born in Blagoevgrad and played for team Pirin as a youth (of course that the best Bulgarian player is from the same region as my father). Today, he is dedicated not only to football, but also to very noble social initiatives. The mission of the Dimitar Berbatov Foundation is to support and develop talented children in the areas of arts, sciences, and sports. See Berbatov’s official site.

The greatest Bulgarian footballer, Hristo Stoichkov, is close friends with the legendary Diego Maradona even today.

Currently, Berbatov is considered one of the most famous Bulgarians in the world. Interestingly, probably the other most well-known Bulgarian of all times is also a footballer: Hristo Stoichkov. Hristo Stoickhov, also known as the Dagger (Kamata in Bulgarian) is the best Bulgarian footballer of all times. He was renowned for his achievements as Bulgaria’s goal master at the 1994 World Championship and as the most popular player in FC Barcelona (Spain) during its golden age. He also player for Parma (Italy), Japan, Chicago Fire (USA) and DC United (USA). He is bearer of the European Golden Boot Award (38 goals in 30 games). Stoichkov was also know for his hot temper and sharp tongue, as any true Bulgarian should be.

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