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Georgi Asparuhov Rangelov (Bulgarian: Георги Аспарухов Рангелов; 4 May 1943 – 30 June 1971), nicknamed Gundi, was a Bulgarian footballer who played as a striker. He is considered to be the greatest Bulgarian footballer of all time and is placed 40th on the list of all-time best footballers by FIFA.[2]

Georgi Asparuhov
Georgi Asparuhov 1969.jpg
Georgi Asparuhov in 1969
Personal information
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)[1]
Playing position Striker
Youth career
Levski Sofia
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1960–1961 Levski Sofia 23 (7)
1961–1963 Botev Plovdiv 47 (25)
1963–1971 Levski Sofia 176 (118)
Total 246 (150)
National team
1962–1970 Bulgaria 49 (18)
* 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, ahead of Hristo Stoichkov.[2] Asparuhov was also nominated for the 1965 Ballon d'Or award, finishing eighth in the final standings.[3]

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.

Asparuhov's career was cut short in 1971 at the age of 28 when he was killed in a vehicle accident. Levski Sofia's current stadium is named in his honour.[4]

CareerEdit

Beginnings at LevskiEdit

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.[5] 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.

Botev PlovdivEdit

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 Bucureşti 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.[6]

Return to LevskiEdit

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 A.C. Milan, wanted to buy Asparuhov, but the communist government of Bulgaria did not allow them to do so.

International careerEdit

Asparuhov made his debut for the Bulgarian national team in a friendly match against Austria at Praterstadion in Vienna on 6 May 1962[7] 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.[8] 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.

DeathEdit

Asparuhov died in a car crash in 1971 with teammate Nikola Kotkov. Over 550,000 people gathered at his funeral in Sofia.[9] The present stadium of Levski Sofia is named Georgi Asparuhov Stadium in honour of the famous striker.

Career statisticsEdit

ClubEdit

Appearances and goals by club, season and competition[10]
Club Season League Cup Continental Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Levski Sofia 1959–60 2 0 0 0 2 0
1960–61 14 3 1 0 15 3
1961–62 7 4 0 0 7 4
Total 23 7 1 0 0 0 24 7
Botev Plovdiv 1961–62 14 5 2 1 16 6
1962–63 27 16 6 3 6 6 39 25
1963–64 6 4 0 0 6 4
Total 47 25 8 4 6 6 61 35
Levski Sofia 1963–64 22 15 5 6 27 21
1964–65 29 27 6 3 35 30
1965–66 22 13 0 0 4 5 26 18
1966–67 11 7 5 3 16 10
1967–68 25 14 2 1 2 2 29 17
1968–69 27 22 3 1 30 23
1969–70 24 12 3 2 4 3 31 17
1970–71 16 8 2 0 2 2 20 10
Total 176 118 26 16 12 12 214 146
Career statistics 246 150 35 20 18 18 299 188

National teamEdit

Bulgaria[11]
Year Apps Goals
1962 6 2
1963 6 2
1964 2 0
1965 8 5
1966 6 2
1967 3 1
1968 4 2
1969 7 3
1970 7 1
Total 49 18

International goalsEdit

Scores and results list Bulgaria's goal tally first.
Georgi Asparuhov: International Goals[11]
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 7 November 1962 Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia   Portugal 1–1 3–1 1964 European Nations' Cup Qualification
2. 2–1
3. 6 January 1963 August 20, 1955 Stadium, Belouizdad   Algeria 1–0 1–2 Friendly
4. 23 January 1963 Stadio Olimpico, Rome   Portugal 1–0 1–0 1964 European Nations' Cup Qualification
5. 13 June 1965 Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia   Israel 3–0 4–0 1966 World Cup Qualification
6. 26 September 1965 Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia   Belgium 2–0 3–0 1966 World Cup Qualification
7. 21 November 1965 Ramat Gan Stadium, Ramat Gan   Israel 2–1 2–1 1966 World Cup Qualification
8. 29 December 1965 Stadio Comunale, Florence   Belgium 1–0 2–1 1966 World Cup Qualification
9. 2–0
10. 14 June 1966 Stadio Comunale, Bologna   Italy 1–2 1–6 Friendly
11. 20 July 1966 Old Trafford, Manchester   Hungary 1–0 1–3 1966 World Cup
12. 12 November 1967 Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia   Sweden 3–0 3–0 Euro 1968 Qualification
13. 27 October 1968 Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia   Netherlands 2–0 2–0 1970 World Cup Qualification
14. 11 December 1968 Wembley, London   England 1–0 1–1 Friendly
15. 23 April 1969 Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia   Luxembourg 1–0 2–1 1970 World Cup Qualification
16. 2–0
17. 15 June 1969 Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia   Poland 4–1 4–1 1970 World Cup Qualification
18. 24 February 1970 Estadio Nacional del Perú, Lima   Peru 2–3 3–5 Friendly

HonoursEdit

ClubEdit

Botev Plovdiv
Levski Sofia

IndividualEdit

InternationalEdit

Bulgaria

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Rusev, Rostislav (12 July 2012). "Синя мечта" (in Bulgarian). trud.bg. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  2. ^ a b "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.
  3. ^ "GeorgiAsparuhov – Gundi". Levski Sofia Official Website. Archived from the original on 9 August 2009. Retrieved 22 August 2009.
  4. ^ "Georgi Asparuhov Stadium" (in Bulgarian). levski.bg.
  5. ^ "Гунди" (in Bulgarian). levski.bg.
  6. ^ "Митът „Георги Аспарухов"" (in Bulgarian). temasport.com. 4 May 2018.
  7. ^ "Austria vs Bulgaria 2–0, 6 May 1962". eu-football.info.
  8. ^ "Bulgaria vs Portugal 3–1, 7 November 1962". eu-football.info.
  9. ^ "550 000 се прощават с Гунди и Котков" (in Bulgarian). 24chasa.bg. 30 June 2017.
  10. ^ "Georgi Asparuhov Rangelov - Gundi". levskisofia.info.
  11. ^ a b "National football team player: Georgi Asparuhov". eu-football.info.

External linksEdit