Transfer deadline day, on the 31st August 2012, was an exciting time for the Club as we confirmed the signing of Dimitar Berbatov from Manchester United on a two-year deal.
The Bulgarian striker had been worth a record £30.75m when he joined the Premier League’s most successful side in 2008 and he netted 56 goals and made 149 appearances at Old Trafford during his four-year spell which saw him land two Premier League titles, a League Cup and the Club World Cup as well.
Beginning his professional career at CSKA Sofia in his homeland, Berbatov broke into the national side at the age of 18 and made the move to Germany to sign for Bayer Leverkusen in 2001. At Leverkusen he scored a hat-trick on his debut in a pre-season game against DC United and quickly established himself as a first team player – helping the side to reach the Final of the UEFA Champions League in 2002; although they lost 2-1 to Real Madrid.
The quality of the striker was clear and then-Tottenham manager Martin Jol made the most of his connections to bring him to play in England in May 2006 - making him the most expensive Bulgarian footballer of all time. Blossoming in the Premier League, it was not long before Manchester United came calling and sealed his signature in 2008 for a club record fee.
Becoming the first Bulgarian to win the Premier League title in his first season, in his own words in 2009, Berbatov revealed of his style: “I am a relaxed guy. I play that way and I can’t change my style. I watch games and see guys who panic on the ball – they look so nervous. I can be calm, because I sometimes know what I want to do before the ball comes to me.”
When he scored 20 goals in 32 games to finish top scorer in the league in 2010/11 that much was evident, but as he was sorely underused the following season, Fulham swooped to pull off one of the best deals in the Club’s history.
Berbatov told the official website: "I'm delighted to have signed for Fulham and I look forward to playing under Martin Jol once again. As soon as I was aware of Fulham's interest my decision to join was an easy one to make. I'm impressed with the set up here and the people have made me feel welcome. There is a close and personal feel around the club and I can't wait to get started."
Manager Jol added: “I tried to do something months ago and it didn’t come off and I came back. For him it was the right moment to make a decision and he made that decision for us. I’m very, very happy and I think our fans will be very happy and proud because it’s probably the biggest signing in the history of Fulham.”
Scoring 15 goals in 33 games during his one season at Fulham to date, Berbatov has proven himself to be one of the finest strikers in the country and won the Player of the Season award voted for by the Whites fans.
He told Fultime magazine earlier this month: “It’s been great, I like playing my football here and I’ve scored goals. On a personal level, I am satisfied with my performance but I maybe should have scored a few more. Overall, I’ve done okay but you look to improve on every level. Overall I’m happy with myself.”
At the age of 32, he has shown no signs of slowing down and will once again be key for our hopes as we enter the 2013/14 season. Berbatov started The Dimitar Berbatov Foundation back in 2008 to help children of talent in Bulgaria make the most of their abilities and it has become a big part of his life.
As a role model, if he can have a similar impact on the young players of Fulham then the Club will have benefitted twice from his signing.
To read the full interview with Dimitar, you can purchase the most recent digital version of Fultime magazine here.