Retired striker Hristo Stoichkov only has good things to say about Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho, despite his side snatching the La Liga title away from his beloved Barcelona.
The 46-year-old Litex Lovech manager played over 175 times for the Catalans, netting 83 goals in the process, but despite maintaining a strong bond with his former club, the Bulgarian has conceded that he can only respect Mourinho for what he has done as a coach.
"I have a great deal of respect for Mourinho," admitted Stoichkov, speaking to reporters.
"I know him personally and he's a good guy. I need to separate the fact that he's the Real Madrid manager from the fact that I'm speaking to him as a person. Although I'm Barcelona through and through, for sure."
Though Stoichkov remains firmly in favour of Barcelona's style of play, he also recognises Real's improvement in recent campaigns.
"I still think that Barca plays better football than any other team, but I have to admit that Real has really grown and for much of last season was the best team in La Liga, which is why it won," he said.
Real Madrid face Barcelona in the first Clasico match of the league campaign on Sunday.