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Fifty Shades Of Dimitar

Despite the best efforts of Sasa Curcic, football and sex haven’t had much to do with each other down the years. Players sometimes compare scoring a goal to the physical act of love – “scrambling it in that consolation goal from a yard against Villa gave me an even bigger thrill than when I splattered my beans up ‘er indoors, Des” – and there was that recurring childhood dream we had about Micky Quinn as a Page 7 fella, wearing only a thong and a roguish grin. Then came Dimitar Berbatov. There is much talk of the footballer as athlete, footballer as artist and footballer as complete tosser; Berbatov is the first footballer as sexual entity. His career has been one big slice of Berbarotica. If he ever does an autobiography, it should be called Fifty Shades of Dimitar.

In the Premier League, Berbatov has been a lover among fighters, his sensual stylings in total contrast to the frantic panting elsewhere on the pitch. Berbatov would rather take your breath away than his own. He is proof that you can do it with your clothes on after all. His first touch is not safe for work and makes adults go so weak that their knees start chattering like a pair of comedy dentures. He does not so much control the ball as seduce it into his instep.

When Manchester United beat Manchester City in 2009, their second goal was scored spectacularly from 20 yards Carlos Tevez. Yet the whole thing would not have been possible had Berbatov not effortlessly killed a 70-yard punt before laying it off to Tevez. Nobody remembered Berbatov’s part. It’s a travesty. Any hairy-arsed chancer can oaf one in from long range; only a few players in the world can do what Berbatov did. Only one man can do it with such irresistible languor.

Modern society, never mind modern football, does not deserve Berbatov. Scott Murray of the Guardian describes him as an “existential striker”. He should have been one of the 18th century’s principal liberal thinkers, spending his days teaching tantra, listening to rabid Peruvian jazz, smoking gossamer cigarettes and inducing shuddering orgasms from 40 paces with nothing more than a barely perceptible eyebrow movement.

He is a man of principle, too, who took his disgusting ostracism at Manchester United with a silent dignity that was in total contrast to the endless bleating of modern footballers. He is Gary Cooper with a twist. In years to come, as football goes from worse to even worse, people will wonder: whatever happened to Dimitar Berbatov, the strong, silent, erotic type?

This article is taken from The Surreal Football Magazine #2: Die Harder which is available £4.12. Buy from Amazon or send £4 to surrealfootball[at]gmail[dot]com via paypal and they’ll send you the PDF.



  1. Costas says:

    wayne summed it up best at 02:42. Some people are so stupid they can’t even hide their own troll agenda.

  2. Random says:

    Just a couple of points to mention.

    The criticism that Berba does not turn up in big games doesnt hold water, because in many big games
    United played with one only striker, and that was Rooney. Can you count any big CL games in which Berbatov played (thats why he came to United, right?). Berbatov has scored against all big sides even when he was at Spurs (many times against Chelsea and Arsenal). The Spurs team was built around him, and at United, Ferguson at least said that he would build the team around Berbatov. I remember him saying “it would be Berbatov-Rooney or Owen-Berbatov” and how Rooney “needs” a mature striker alongside him. Apparently, he ended up benching him for the sake of his ‘away’ tactics.

    Saying that he has half a good season and stuff is frankly off-the-mark, since if you get benched for stupid tactics, it is quite reasonable to lose some form and so on. Over the last three years, United have played some frustrating football, and Berbatov is part of the collateral damage.

  3. Random says:

    Also, Wenger must be an idiot or a stuck-up to have missed out on Berbatov in exchange for Van Persie. He would fit perfectly in at Arsenal. Not that I am complaining, just that Fulham are lucky to have a player of Berbatov’s calibre.

  4. Random says:


    Some of your points are debatable. Tottenham were built around Berbatov, and they did really well attackingly. The line-up of Berbatov, Keane, Lennon and Malbranque was really good. Defensively, there were clowns, and thats why as a whole Spurs didnt do much.

    And the United style of playing that you are talking about, is no way correlated to Berba. We played fast counter attacking football only when Ronaldo was here. Without a unique player like Ronaldo (how is very fast, has deadly finishing, and does not like to defend), it is impossible and unrewarding to play counter-attack. Berbatov style is not the opposite of United’s as people make it out to be. Berbatov likes to dwell on the ball, but is also very good for one-touch passes and through balls. United did not even play that! All I can remember is a boring cross-cross to Valencia who aims a high looping cross. Very original indeed!

    Ferguson bought Berbatov, but had no clue about how to use him.

  5. wayne says:

    Thing is when Utd needed him he led the team to 19 so i don’t need hypotheticals because Berba already proved himself,which makes your hypothetical redundant and fucking stupid that’s the reason i came after you for talking shit.It only takes a run through your posts to see contractions and attempts to bring in diversions to realize what a fucking Muppet you are

  6. Raizzen says:

    Cant help but think the Gary Cooper reference has something to do with Tony Soprano’s rants when lamenting about his emotional frailty.

    “Whatever happen to the likes of Gary Cooper, the strong, silent type ?”


  7. denton davey says:

    Square Peg/Round Hole.

    No matter how the issue is debated, Dimmy was a disappointment at OT. Of course he had his moments but he was expected to be more than that – and he wasn’t.

    To quote: “I knew Eric Cantona and you, sir, are no Eric Cantona”.

    I do agree, though, that it was a serious mistake for SAF to leave him out of the 2nd CL match with Barcelona while giving a spot on the bench to LittleMikey. THAT was a match that Dimmy might have – maybe – been a useful addition to the on-field team.

    Same goes for Nani – Barcelona sussed AV7 and closed him down- AV is a one-footed player (a bit of a flat-track bully against inferior oppostion) who always does the same two tricks as opposed to a two-footed player who has a bag-of-tricks that may (or may not) work against top-class opponents.

  8. Daniel88 says:

    Berba’s career at United was a failure.

    Many people point to the season he joint top scored in the league but we all know (or should) those goals came in clumps.

    He never suited our style of play but failing that he failed to show willing. The will to get the ball, shoot and make runs into the box.

    He was more happy dropping deep playing passes and doing flicks. NOOOO ! ! !.

  9. Costas says:

    No matter how they came, his goals in 10-11 did help secure a record breaking title. And for that alone, his time at United was anything but a failure. I think we’ve forgotten what a failure at United looks like.

  10. denton davey says:

    Costas @ 21:28: ” his goals in 10-11 did help secure a record breaking title. And for that alone, his time at United was anything but a failure.”

    You are correct – but he was a “disappointment”.

    He promised so much and, in relative terms, delivered little.

    BUT, as you say, he did make a significant contribution to # 19 and, for that reason alone, it would be incorrect to label his time @ UTD as a “failure”.

    The contrast with RVP is quite telling – not so much in terms of goals scored but in relation to fitting in with the team’s style of play.

  11. Costas says:


    Wouldn’t say he promised anything to be honest. Players often look different when they join United compared to their previous club. Berbatov left a team where he was the focal point to join another team where his role would be different. Won’t even get into the transfer fee debate because we all know how that came about. Obviously he wasn’t a rousing success at United, but I’d say he was a victim of circumstances (weak midfield led to 4-5-1 selections, Rooney was the main striker, our play needed to be quicker) more than a disappointment.

    You mentioned Cantona. While it’s impossible to compare players from different ages, I truly feel that Cantona would have faced the same types of problems in today’s game. That’s why in my opinion he retired prematurely. He realized technique was beginning to come second in terms of requirements.

  12. denton davey says:

    Costas – I only mentioned Eric Cantona insofar as he was a charismatic player and the BerbaLovers (those who claim to have Berba-gasms) seem to think that Dimmy was “cool” or “sexy”.

    That’s why I riffed/quoted the Dan Quayle put-down by Lloyd Bentsen, who was a US vice-presidential nominee. Bentsen said, with withering contempt, in his televised debate with Quayle (who had claimed that he [Quayle] was “like JFK”) something similar to: “I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was my friend. And you, sir, are no Jack Kennedy”.

    I understand if the reference is arcane and now rather old (and I, sir, am no American although I am rather old) but it does get to the absurdity of comparing Dimmy’s “cool sexiness” with Eric’s charisma and ability to deliver in the clutch.

    Eric Cantona was the real deal; whether he liked it or not, Dimitar Berbatov was not. It’s not a matter of Dimmy’s claim to be the second coming of Cantona but, rather, the absurdity of the claims by those who admired Dimmy that he was a truly-special player.

    Like J-S Veron, when push-came-to-shove, Dimmy, in his four years at UTD, wasn’t good enough to be considered UTD-quality. He wasn’t an unmitigated disaster but, for sure, Dimmy was not a “rousing success at United”. And, at the end of the day, that’s what counts – it’s all about results.

  13. denton davey says:

    AJ @ 19:24: “To be honest.. Berbatov at his best was a better sight than the messis and the ronaldos of this world”

    This is, I think, a perfect example of insanity by Berba-gasm.

  14. Costas says:


    Yeah but could you say for sure that Cantona wouldn’t have struggled in today’s game? Or that Berbatov wouldn’t have been a better fit for United 15-20 years ago? That was my point. Never compared the two, although as far as comparisons go, Berba’s cool and sexy (depending on your taste, lol) style was more similar to Cantona than say, Van Persie.

    And to continue with the quotes, I’d say Berba was the type of stiker we deserved, but not the one we needed during that time. :D

  15. StatesideAussie says:

    Denton … how are you, old mate? Still can’t resist the opportunity to stick the boot in to the Berba-lovers, eh?

    “This is, I think, a perfect example of insanity by Berba-gasm.” For sure, it was. But to me, it’s insanity to talk about “the best” in almost any area of human endeavour. Doesn’t stop people doing it. Clearly, Messi and Ronaldo are better players than Berbatov. Yet for all that, there are aspects of Berbatov’s play that were, well, yes, Berba-gasmic. Few players have matched his extraordinary abillity to tame even the most difficult of balls instantly with a single, silky touch. In fact, I doubt even Ronaldo can match that aspect of Berbatov’s play (though Messi can). And he did score (and set up) some goals with jaw-dropping skill and inventiveness. Are we better off with RVP? Of course.

    But in all my long years of watching United from a distance, there are many moments of individual and team magic whose memory I will always treasure. And I quite happily confess that Berbatov is one of the leading contributors to that “gallery” of special moments in my head.

  16. reDalerT says:


    You lost all argument credibility the moment you compared Berbatov’s role to Solskjaer’s.


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