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Dimitar Berbatov: Artist. Genius. Failure?

How will football remember Dimitar Berbatov: as an artist, a genius, or a failure? Perhaps all three descriptions are required to sum up the brilliant, blasé Bulgarian.

by Daniel Lee
11 January 2017, 4:51am

PA images

It's a balmy spring evening in the Stade Louis II. The sun is dipping low in the sky. Five minutes into the opening half of the Cote D'Azur derby, João Moutinho propels the ball forward, adroitly guiding it over the Nice defence. The ball finds Dimitar Berbatov near the byline; he cushions it, halting for a fleeting moment as if raising a glass of fine port to his own brilliance. Next, a collected stroll followed by a casual lob over an impotent David Ospina. Minimum effort, utmost poise. A goal to feed his standardised perception.

Criticising his application demands nothing more than consultation with your thesaurus. Indolent. Lethargic. Lackadaisical. Languid. Uninterested.

Berbatov's approach is what it is. Idle. He could never add labour to his love for nimble touches; it just wasn't his style. To do so would be taking away from his laid-back artistry. It defines him. Donkey work simply isn't elegant. "You are not going to see me puffing around the pitch. There is a saying in Bulgaria that great quality does not require much effort." That was Berbatov, as he puts it himself.

Few players divide opinion quite like Dimitar Berbatov. He feeds off contradiction, he promotes it.

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Dimitar Berbatov