Berbatov tells journalists to stop voting him top player


MANCHESTER UNITED striker Dimitar Berbatov told reporters to stop voting for him after being named Bulgaria’s Footballer of the Year for a seventh time yesterday. “I prefer to see some of the younger lads winning the award,” the 29-year-old said after coming top in the poll of sports journalists. “Please, don’t vote for me anymore.”

Bulgaria’s all-time leading scorer, with 48 goals, quit the national team in May citing fatigue and family commitments. Last month, he became only the fourth player to score five times in one Premier League match when he helped destroy Blackburn Rovers in a 7-1 win. Berbatov expects to spend the rest of his career at United. “I fought to have a chance to play for United and now I can only go down if I leave,” he said. “Why I should do this? It would be better to retire.”

Gaziantepspor striker Ivelin Popov and Twente Enschede goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov came second and third in the poll.

Meanwhile, Gary Speed has already spoken to Ryan Giggs about involving the Manchester United great in the new Wales coaching set-up. Speed was appointed as John Toshack’s successor in the Wales hotseat last week and he is now in the process of forming his back-room team.

Giggs was the early favourite for the top job but, with six months still to go on his United contract, it was a no-go. However, the 37-year-old, holder of a record 11 Premier League titles and 64 Wales caps, could be tempted to take a smaller role.

Speed is also looking for an experienced coach to assist him, with Wales Under-21 boss Brian Flynn and Speed’s right-hand man at Sheffield United, John Carver, in the frame. The 41-year-old said: “I want a good coach to do the day-to-day coaching sessions on the training pitch whereas I do more team shape. Then I would like an experienced man behind me who has had experience at maybe Premier League and international football (level) because I’m relatively young.”

Speed’s first match in charge will be the Nations Cup opener against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin on February 8th.