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.