Monday, September 22, 2014

22 September 1960 - Gundi Goes Pro

On 22 September 1960, Bulgarian center forward Georgi Asparuhov made his first professional appearance, a Bulgarian top division match for Levski Sofia against Lokomotiv Sofia. Asparuhov, nicknamed "Gundi," is widely regarded as the greatest Bulgarian footballer of all time.

He played with Levski for two seasons, making 23 league appearances and scoring seven goals. In 1961, he transferred to Botev Plovdiv, where he won his first silverware--the 1962 Bulgarian National Cup. He moved back to Levski in 1963, where he remained until he died in an automobile accident in 1971. In total, he played 326 club matches and scored 209 goals, winning three more National Cups (1968, 1970, 1971) and three league titles (1965, 1968, 1970). He was the league's top scorer in the 1964-65 season with 27 goals and was named Bulgaria's top sportsman in 1965.

He also made 50 appearances for the Bulgarian national team from 1961 to 1971, scoring 19 goals.

Asparuhov drew attention from bigger European clubs after a tie against Benfica in the 1965-66 European Cup. Levski lost to Benfica on aggregate, 5-4, with Asparuhov scoring all four of Levski's goals. Scouts from AC Milan approached Asparuhov, who famously responded "There is a country named Bulgaria, and in this country is a team named Levski. You maybe haven't heard of it, but there I was born and there shall I die!"

In 1990, Levski's stadium was renamed Georgi Asparuhov Stadium.

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