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Georgi Asparuhov in 1969
|Full name||Georgi Asparuhov Rangelov|
|Date of birth||(1943-05-04)4 May 1943|
|Place of birth||Sofia, Bulgaria|
|Date of death||30 June 1971(1971-06-30) (aged 28)|
|Place of death||Vitinya Pass, Bulgaria|
|Height||1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
A prolific forward of his generation, Asparuhov was renowned for his finishing, technique and heading ability. He was voted the best Bulgarian footballer of the 20th century and Europe's 40th best player of the century, a position shared with Paolo Rossi. Asparuhov was also nominated for the 1965 Ballon d'Or award, finishing eighth in the final standings.
In international football, Asparuhov made his Bulgaria debut on 6 May 1962 at the age of 19. He made 49 appearances in total, appearing at three FIFA World Cup tournaments, in 1962, 1966 and 1970, and scoring 18 goals.
Beginnings at Levski
Asparuhov began his senior career at Levski Sofia in the end of 1959–60 season at the age of 17. He made his debut on 5 June 1960 in a 1–0 home loss against Lokomotiv Sofia, coming on as a second-half substitute. His first senior goal came during the following campaign when he scored in a 1–1 away draw against Botev Plovdiv on 28 September 1960.
In January 1962, Asparuhov joined Botev Plovdiv where he won 1961–62 Bulgarian Cup a few months later. On 13 September 1962, he marked his European debut away at Steaua București with two goals, but Botev lost the game 3–2 in their preliminary round first leg tie of 1962–63 Cup Winners' Cup. A week later, in the second leg of Botev's European tie against Steaua, Asparuhov scored his first-ever hat-trick in a resounding 5–1 home victory. He also scored in a 4–0 away win over Shamrock Rovers on 24 October 1962 and became a top scorer of the tournament with 6 goals.
In October 1963, Asparuhov returned to Levski Sofia.
Return to Levski
Widely regarded as Levski's greatest ever player, Asparuhov played over 230 games for the club, winning three Bulgarian League titles and three Bulgarian Cups. During his time at the club he won the Bulgarian footballer of the year and Bulgarian sportsperson of the year in 1965.
Asparuhov is Levski's third all-time leading goal scorer (153). In 1964–65 season he became the league's top scorer with 27 goals in 29 matches.
Some of the top European clubs at the time sought his services. In the 1965–66 European Cup, Levski played Benfica (with Eusébio in the squad). When Benfica eliminated Levski after hard-fought 3:2 and 2:2 scorelines and Gundi having netted 3 of all Levski goals (one of them Simo Nikolov), Europe began to view Gundi with interest. In fact, he was the first player to score two goals in Benfica's stadium. The Portuguese club, as well as Itaian giants AC Milan, wanted to buy Asparuhov, but the communist government of Bulgaria did not allow them to do so.
To AC Milan's emissary, regarding their offer, he answered that way:
"Tell them that there is a country named Bulgaria. In that country there is a team named Levski, you might not have heard of it. But I was born in this team and I will die in this team."
Asparuhov made his debut for the Bulgarian national team in a friendly match against Austria at Praterstadion in Vienna on 6 May 1962 and was named in the 22-man Bulgarian squad for the 1962 FIFA World Cup. He made his World Cup debut in the second group game against Hungary at Estadio Braden Copper Co. in Rancagua on 3 June 1962.
Asparuhov scored his first goals for Bulgaria on 7 November 1962, scoring twice in a 3–1 home victory over Portugal in a 1964 European Nations' Cup qualifying match. Then he top scored for Bulgaria in their 1966 World Cup qualifying campaign with five goals. During the World Cup he scored Bulgaria's only goal in a 1–3 loss against Hungary at Old Trafford in Manchester.
Asparuhov died in a car crash in 1971 with teammate Nikola Kotkov. Over 550,000 people gathered at his funeral in Sofia. The present stadium of Levski Sofia is named Georgi Asparuhov Stadium in honour of the famous striker.
- Scores and results list Bulgaria's goal tally first.
- Botev Plovdiv
- Levski Sofia
- Bulgarian League top scorer: 1964–65 (27 goals)
- UEFA Cup Winners' Cup top scorer: 1962–63 (6 goals)
- Bulgarian sportsperson of the year: 1965
- Bulgarian footballer of the year: 1965
- Best Bulgarian footballer of the 20th century (bg)
- 1965 Ballon d'Or: 8th place
- Holder of an Order of Labour
- Deserved Master of Sports
- Holder of the Fairplay prize /posthumously/: 1999
- IFFHS Top 100 Best European Players of the 20th Century: 40th place
- UEFA Euro 1968: 5th place
- Rusev, Rostislav (12 July 2012). "Синя мечта" (in Bulgarian). trud.bg. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
- "A tribute to the 40th best player of all time Georgi Asparuhov – a genius few know, but few would ever forget". goal.com. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
- http://rsssf.com/miscellaneous/iffhs-century.html#eupoy%7C Europe – Player of the Century.
- "GeorgiAsparuhov – Gundi". Levski Sofia Official Website. Archived from the original on 9 August 2009. Retrieved 22 August 2009.
- "Georgi Asparuhov Stadium" (in Bulgarian). levski.bg.
- "Гунди" (in Bulgarian). levski.bg.
- "Митът "Георги Аспарухов"" (in Bulgarian). temasport.com. 4 May 2018.
- "Austria vs Bulgaria 2–0, 6 May 1962". eu-football.info.
- "Bulgaria vs Portugal 3–1, 7 November 1962". eu-football.info.
- "550 000 се прощават с Гунди и Котков" (in Bulgarian). 24chasa.bg. 30 June 2017.
- "Georgi Asparuhov Rangelov – Gundi". levskisofia.info.
- "National football team player: Georgi Asparuhov". eu-football.info.
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