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HRISTO STOICHKOV



BORN:  August 18, 1966 
COUNTRY: Bulgaria
WORLD CUP APPEARANCES:  2 tournaments ('94, '98)
CLUBS: CSKA Sofia, Barcelona, Parma, Barcelona, Kashiwa Reysol

INTRODUCTION: Joint-top scorer of the 1994 World Cup. 

1994 World Cup - USA
Before the tournament started, nobody would have predicted Bulgaria's achievements at this World Cup.  Bulgaria started badly, losing 3-0 to Nigeria in their opening match.  However, Stoickov and his teammates bounced back with a 4-2 victory over Greece, their first win in the World Cup.  Stoichkov scored with 2 penalties against the Greeks and then follow up with another that beat an Argentina side without Maradona.  In the second round, Stoichkov found the net again, striking powerfully past Mexican goalkeeper Campos.

But Stoichkov saved his best goal for the quarter-final against defending champions Germany.  Curling a superb free-kick (the best of the tournament), the Bulgarian ace cancelled out Matthaus' early effort and inspired his team to achieve a stunning victory.

BEAUTIFUL
Stoichkov's beautifully struck free-kick helped eliminate Germany in the quarter-final
Stoichkov scored again against Italy after Siriakov was fouled in the penalty area.  But Itlay held on to win 2-1.  Stoichkov later claimed the French referee favoured the Italians and turned down 2 other penalty appeals by Bulgaria.  With 6 goals, Stoichkov tied with Russia's Oleg Salenko as the tournament's top scorer.  He could have claimed the award on his own had he scored in the 3rd place play-off against Sweden, which ended in a 4-0 defeat.

1998 World Cup - France

At the age of 32, Stoickhov led an ageing and fading Bulgarian team to France.  He played in all three games, but failed to find the net as the semi-finalist in '94 crashed out after the first round.


HIS GOALS IN THE WORLD CUP - COMPLETE RECORD
1994
1st round: 2nd match v. Greece (2)
1st round: 3rd match v. Argentina
2nd round v. Mexico
Quarter-final v. Germany
Semi-final v. Italy


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