Lucio, who has tipped Dimitar Berbatov to win the Ballon d’Or this season, has given insight to our man of the moment’s background. He talks of the poverty Berbatov grew up in and his determination to improve the lives of orphans living in Bulgaria.
It was during the Brazilian’s time at Bayer Leverkusen, where he spent three years playing in the same side as Berbatov, that he got to know the striker that he claims is ‘one in a million’.
“People are aware of the great poverty that players grow up with in South America and Africa,” said Lucio. “But people seem to forget there are poor parts of Europe where people don’t have anything. Berbatov told us that he was so poor as a kid in Bulgaria that he grew up playing football with a basketball he found in a skip. But you would never guess it when you see how good his first touch is. Every summer he goes home and sleeps on his mother’s couch back in Bulgaria. He is not interested in holidaying in Miami or Monaco – he just wants to go home to his mother. He was always so excited when he scored a goal because he knew his mother would text him and he couldn’t wait to rush back into the dressing room and see it. I know that is still the case now. He has said he owes everything to his mother. The most important thing to him even more important than football is the work he does with orphans back in Bulgaria. He has said to me he can’t believe there are still children growing up there who don’t have anything on their feet. His goal is to make sure every homeless orphan in Bulgaria is clothed and fed. He will do it. He really is one in a million.”