DIMITAR BERBATOV WAS ABSOLUTELY GOLDEN

“Sorry Berba. Sorry, mate”. That's all I'd be saying if I played on the same Sunday League team as Dimitar Berbatov. He's not the kind of guy you want to be messing with. Make a pass that's a bit too heavy, and Berba will give you a bollocking with his eyeballs. A long, hard, stare. The kind that makes you want to go and bury yourself in a hole.

No point in telling him that he could have reached it with a mere stretch of his leg. That's not the Dimitar way. Every pass played to him needs to be perfect. From there, you can guarantee that the touch will be sublime and the back of the net will be rippling. Didn't really matter where he was on the pitch either, really.

But if any pass didn't meet the Berba standard - overdone, undercooked, or served without garnish - you can bet that the ball was going to the other team. Basically, he was football's closest thing to a total snob. He wore his apathy like a virtue, without care for the English game's fetish for distance covered stats and marauding runner men. Dimitar Berbatov was a proper moody striker, and that's why I love him.

I'm a United fan myself, but I actually found it more entertaining to watch Berbatov at Spurs and Fulham on the telly. They only showed the good bits on Match of the Day, and left out all the times when he just didn't care about running back when the other team got the ball.

Image Credit: Вячеслав Евдокимов

When you look at a painting by van Gogh, you understand that it's beautiful and you appreciate it’s art. But  most – including me – can’t understand why it's that good. Berbatov is the same dilemma. Yeah, sure: his touch was perfection, his striking sublime and his running patterns were unreadable. But how did such a lazy player thrive through the tiki-taka and counter of the late 2000s, as well as the pressing of the mid 2010s? Dunno. It proper messes with my brain, man.

Berbatov wouldn’t have had a very nice time playing pinball at Pep’s Barca or pressing at Klopp's Liverpool. He wouldn’t stand for tracking back, or playing for those around him. He wouldn't play for anyone other than himself. That's not what Berba's about.

But what he did do was win games. Season by season he kept on finding new glitches in the game, doing things that didn't make any sense. Watching him in my frontroom took me out of my imaginary Reebok touchline tracksuit and dressed me in a Berbatov Man United shirt with the collar up. Berba made me feel like a child again.  

Watching him at Monaco felt the same as watching him at Man United. There Dimitar was moodier, slower and more indifferent than ever. The chip he scored there against Nice was his farewell act. The final Berbalob. Just like he did for Leverkusen, he lifted the ball across the keeper like a frisbee. And then he just shrugged his shoulders. Dimitar Berbatov didn't care, and that's the best thing about him.

Chips are always special. Every time you see one it feels like football isn't broken. Whether it’s Messi just doing his thing, or one of your mates humiliating the cocky prick in goal at five-a-side, a lobbed goal pumps blood through your veins. They make you feel alive. And none made you brain nearly explode more than Berba's. His were the best.

Dimitar Berbatov was an angry man and he scored loads of angry goals. I'd never change him for the world, man.

Title Image Credit: Ian C/ nasmac, via Flickr

James Simpkins

*Once* saw the top of Fellaini's afro.