Former Manchester United and Bulgaria forward Dimitar Berbatov has confirmed his retirement from professional football at the age of 38.
The striker, who played over 650 games in a career that lasted two decades and took him to clubs across two continents, made the announcement over a year after his last game for Indian Super League outfit Kerala Blasters.
A double Premier League winner with United, for whom he made just shy of 150 appearances between 2008 and 2012, he made his debut in 1998 for CSKA Sofia in his home country.
He subsequently spent five and a half seasons with Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga before joining Tottenham in 2006, subsequently spending the better part of a decade in the Premier League and English football.
“I know some of you already thought that I retired,” Berbatov penned in a long message posted to his Instagram feed.
“My last game was more [than] one year ago, so I think it’s the right time now to stop. It’s long overdue!
“I will miss it. The games, the goals, the pressure, the roar of the fans when I scored another banger. I was blessed… to have the opportunity to play with one of the best ever and against some of the best ever.
“Thank you to all the people who helped me develop and become the player I always wanted to be. Thank you to all my former teams, my team-mates, my coaches and staff. It was a pleasure.
On this special day today, / if you don't know why, check the story 😁/ i decide to share this with you, which i was preparing to post a while ago, but didn't... I don't know why... I know some of you already thought that i retired, and now maybe you are like WTF Berbs we know that you don't play, but i did try to find something last year.. Didn't happened 😂🤦🏻♂ So, someone told me i need to say something, and seeing that people where asking me, especially back home, i need to give a farewell message! So, here it is! My last game was more then one year ago, so i think its the right time now to stop and its long overdue! Although when i think about it, its never The End, because i will stay in the game in one way or another, the time has come to say that after almost 20 years playing football i am stoping with my proffesional ACTIVE football career! I will miss it! I will fucking miss it! Everything! The games, trainings, the goals, preparations, the presure, my teammates... the roar of the fans when i scored another banger 😂😎 I was blessed and work hard to have the oportunity to play with one of the best ever and against some of the best ever! And coming from small country this makes it even more special for me! I had my highs and of course some lows in my career, won my fair share of trophies, score some goals along the way as well! I played the way i wanna play, and i scored the goals i wanted to score! Thank you to all the people who helped me develope, and became the player i always wanted to be! Thank you to all my former teams my teammates and my coaches and staff! It was a pleasure! I know at times i was not easy to work with, but i always gave my everything for the teams i played for! I hope you all have enjoyed my game, and everything i gave to entertain you on the pitch! 👊🏻 Damn it, i will miss all of this, peopleee, because i love football so much... But i am sure you will miss me as well 😁 Thank you! 🙏🏻 DB9
“I know at times I was not easy to work with but I always gave my everything for the teams I played for.
“I will miss all of this, people, because I love football so much… but I am sure you will miss me as well[!] Thank you!”
A Premier League Golden Boot winner in 2011, he was also a multiple recipient of the Bulgarian Footballer of the Year award, claiming the honour a record seven times.
At international level, Berbatov made 78 appearances for his country ,captaining them between 2006 and his international retirement in 2010.
He only helped them to one major tournament during his time in the national side, the 2004 European Championship in Portugal, where they were knocked out in the group stages.
His haul of 48 goals makes him the joint-highest scorer in Bulgaria’s history, alongside Hristo Bonev.