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Lyuboslav Mladenov Penev (Bulgarian: Любослав Младенов Пенев; born 31 August 1966) is a Bulgarian football manager and former player.

Lyuboslav Penev
Lyuboslav Penev interview.jpg
Personal information
Full name Lyuboslav Mladenov Penev
Date of birth (1966-08-31) 31 August 1966 (age 53)
Place of birth Dobrich, Bulgaria
Height 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Playing position Centre forward
Youth career
CSKA Sofia
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1984–1989 CSKA Sofia 101 (80)
1989–1995 Valencia 167 (67)
1995–1996 Atlético Madrid 37 (16)
1996–1998 Compostela 69 (32)
1998–1999 Celta Vigo 32 (14)
2000–2001 CSKA Sofia 22 (8)
2002 Lokomotiv Plovdiv 4 (0)
Total 432 (217)
National team
1987–1998 Bulgaria 62 (13)
Teams managed
2009–2010 CSKA Sofia
2010–2011 Litex Lovech
2011–2014 Bulgaria
2014 Botev Plovdiv
2015 CSKA Sofia
2016 Litex Lovech
2016 Litex Lovech II
2017 Valencia B
2019 CSKA Sofia
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only


Penev's first professional team was CSKA Sofia of the Bulgarian capital. He made his first team debut in 1984, when he was only 18 years old. CSKA of the late 1980s was the football "alma mater" to several Bulgarian players like Hristo Stoichkov who made it to the international top in the 1990s. During those days Lubo's teammates included defender Trifon Ivanov, winger Emil Kostadinov, and striker Hristo Stoichkov. With CSKA Penev won the Bulgarian A Football Group twice (in 1987 and 1989) and the Bulgarian Cup three times (in 1987, 1988 and 1989). He was also voted as the Bulgarian Footballer of the Year in 1988.

In 1989, after reaching stardom in the Bulgarian football, he took an important step in his career by moving to the Spanish League. In Primera Penev played for four different clubs: Valencia CF, Atlético Madrid, SD Compostela and Celta Vigo. The highlight of the Spanish years was the 1995–1996 season with Atlético, when the club conquered both the league championship and the Spanish Cup. Penev was the most efficient player of the "double squad" by scoring 22 goals in 44 games (including both league and cup matches).

International careerEdit

Penev represented Bulgaria in 1996 European Football Championship in England and in the 1998 World Cup in France. He could not take part in the 1994 World Cup, as he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer since the beginning of 1994. For the same reason he was replaced by Nasko Sirakov during the match Bulgaria vs Romania at UEFA Euro 1996 in England.

Coaching careerEdit

In March 2009, he succeeded his uncle Dimitar Penev as manager of CSKA Sofia and under his guidance the team qualified for the group stages of the UEFA Europa League, defeating FC Dynamo Moscow – 2–1 on aggregate. On 6 November 2009, he gave his resignation, after a 1–3 loss to Swiss side FC Basel due to a conflict with the club's owners. CSKA finished 4th in the group behind Roma, Basel and Fulham. CSKA won its single point in the opening game against the future finalist Fulham (1–1 after a good strike from Michel Platini and a mistake from CSKA goalkeeper Ivan Karadzhov). However, Penev's resignation was not accepted, because the CSKA fans wanted him to stay.

The club was leader in the Bulgarian championship before the last round, when Litex Lovech took the leadership. On 13 January 2010, after another clash with the owners, he was fired. After the lost game against Minyor Pernik he withdrew nine players from training sessions for breaking the club's rules, this led to the conflict with the owners.[1]

During the summer many rumours connected him with a transfer to a Spanish clubs (mainly from Liga Adelante, but from Liga BBVA sides too), but he remained a free agent. On 2 September 2010, he became manager of Litex Lovech and won the 2010–2011 A PFG Group championship.

On 23 October 2011, he resigned as Litex Lovech coach and was appointed manager of the national team. In his first game in charge, on 29 February 2012, Bulgaria earned a 1–1 draw away to Hungary. On 26 May 2012 his team defeated the runners-up of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Netherlands in Amsterdam by a score of 2–1. Under his management, Bulgaria's fortunes picked up and the team put in credible performances against Italy, Denmark and the Czech Republic in the qualifications for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. As a result, Bulgaria climbed from 96th in the FIFA World rankings when Penev took over, to 40th in November 2012. Currently, Bulgaria stand second in Group B on 13 points. Their next game was against the Czech Republic in Sofia on 15 October 2013, a match which Bulgaria lost 0–1.

On 1 November 2013, Lyuboslav Penev extended his contract with the national team of Bulgaria for two years. During this period, he will be able to qualify the team for the UEFA Euro 2016 in France.[2]

On 6 June 2014, Penev was unveiled as the new manager of Botev Plovdiv, emphasizing that his new duties will not in any way affect his commitment to the national team.[3] The sudden financial troubles of the club, however, led to the quick termination of his contract in early July after only one game (4–0 home victory against Libertas at the first qualifying round for UEFA Europa League).[4]

On 8 July 2014, Penev left Botev Plovdiv after just one game to focus on the Bulgaria National Team.[5]

On 20 November 2014, Penev was sacked by Bulgaria National Team following a run of poor results that culminated in a frustrating 1–1 home draw with Malta.[6] In late April 2015, Penev took over as coach of former club CSKA Sofia until the end of the season, replacing Galin Ivanov after the club had found itself in a difficult situation due to a string of unsuccessful performances that had started at the beginning of 2015.[7] On 22 January 2016 it was announced that he is going to manage Litex Lovech for a second time. The team was lately expelled from A Group, but had matches for the Bulgarian Cup until end of the season. In late September 2016, national team coach Ivaylo Petev agreed to a managerial contract with Dinamo Zagreb and therefore resigned. Many of the top national team players have spoken out in favour of Penev being reappointed as a national team coach - this is due to his tough and successful coaching. Many players such as Stanislav Manolev have stated that Bulgaria has been at their best in many recent years under coach Penev, as he is tough and very tactically mindful of the game and knows exactly what to do to bring the Bulgarian national team back to its original status as a side competitive with the European powerhouses in football.[8]

Managerial statisticsEdit

As of 3 May 2019
Team From To Record
G W D L Win % GF GA GD
CSKA Sofia 6 March 2009 13 January 2010 30 21 4 5 070.00 52 18 +34
Litex Lovech 2 September 2010 24 October 2011 41 28 7 6 068.29 76 26 +50
Bulgaria 1 November 2011 20 November 2014 23 8 7 8 034.78 28 24 +4
CSKA Sofia 28 April 2015 30 June 2015 5 1 3 1 020.00 6 5 +1
Litex Lovech 22 January 2016 6 June 2016 2 1 0 1 050.00 1 2 -1
Litex Lovech II 22 January 2016 6 June 2016 13 10 3 0 076.92 32 8 +24
CSKA Sofia 8 February 2019 3 May 2019 14 7 3 4 050.00 22 13 +9
Total 128 76 27 25 059.38 217 96 +121


Player honoursEdit

CSKA Sofia
Valencia CF
Atlético Madrid

Individual honoursEdit

Manager honoursEdit

Litex Lovech


External linksEdit

Preceded by
  Nikolay Iliev
Bulgarian Footballer of the Year
Succeeded by
  Hristo Stoichkov