Dimitar Berbatov played for just over an hour and scored a hat-trick as he helped raise money for Stiliyan Petrov’s cancer foundation at Celtic Park on Sunday.
Petrov, who is in remission from acute leukaemia, played for Celtic during his career and called upon the likes of current players such as John Terry, Gareth Barry and Gabriel Agbonlahor; retired stars Henrik Larsson, Jamie Redknapp and Robert Pires; a host of celebrities including One Direction singer Louis Tomlinson, comic John Bishop and former Westlife singer Nicky Byrne; and former international teammates Berbatov and Martin Petrov to help raise money for his cancer foundation.
As one of the only players still in action in the Barclays Premier League, Berbatov’s class told as early as the first minute as he chested down a long ball in the box, shrugged off a challenge and slotted home with his left foot for the opening goal.
Larsson netted a penalty to equalise for the Celtic XI shortly after, then Berbatov was involved in the build-up as the ball found Martin Petrov on the wing and the Bulgarian slotted into the far corner for 2-1.
Berbatov got his second just before the break as a burst of pace saw him get beyond the defence to slide a cross home with ease and the Stiliyan XI went in 3-1 leaders.
Our striker showed he wanted more as some breathtaking control on the edge of the box saw him hammer a shot off the woodwork in the 52nd minute and then his vision opened the door for Gabriel Agbonlahor but the Aston Villa man also hit the post.
Berba was not to be denied however as a couple of nice passes then saw him find space in the box and, although he was tripped and lost his balance, he managed to prod the ball under the advancing Rab Douglas for his hat-trick.
There was time for one more effort on goal as a volley went whistling past the post, before Berbatov was brought off just after the hour mark. Former Celtic striker Pierre Van Hooijdonk then put home a rebound to make it 4-2 after comedian John Bishop had missed a penalty and substitute Warren Brown scored with ten minutes left to close the gap to 4-3.
Having played for the Stiliyan XI in the first half, the man himself came on again for the final moments in the Celtic XI colours to a rapturous reception from the fans at Celtic Park. However, Byrne made it 5-3 as the seconds ticked down to deny Stan a win, although the score mattered little.
If you want to help Berba’s former teammate you can DONATE to his foundation online by clicking here