Continuing our alphabetical world tour, next up is Bulgaria. Bulgaria’s top goal scorer and appearance maker have both played in the Premier League, among nine players in total according to the Premier League website.
First Player – Bontcho Guenchev (Ipswich Town; 1992-95)
Signing for Ipswich in December 1992 from Sporting Lisbon, Bontcho Guenchev became the Premier League’s first Bulgarian player. He enjoyed a positive start to life in East Anglia with two goals in his first few games as Ipswich started the first Premier League season positively.
Their season dropped off a cliff after January however, and though they avoided relegation, The Tractor Boys were relegated in 1995, with Guenchev leaving that summer.
In most other eras, Guenchev would likely have won dozens of international caps, but the emergence of Bulgaria’s golden generation in the 1990s meant he retired with just 12.
- Most Appearances – Dimitar Berbatov (229)
- First appearance – Bontcho Guenchev (IPSWICH 3-1 Manchester City, December 12th 1992)
- Most goals – Dimitar Berbatov (94)
- First goal – Bontcho Guenchev (IPSWICH 2-1 Blackburn, December 28th 1992)
Current Players – None
Dimitar Berbatov (Fulham) and Alexander Tonev (Aston Villa) both played in the Premier League in 2013/14, the last Premier League season to feature a Bulgarian.
- Bulgaria and Japan are the only countries to have had exactly nine Premier League players.
- Dimitar Berbatov is Bulgaria’s record goal scorer (48), while former Aston Villa midfielder Stiliyan Petrov is Bulgaria’s record appearance maker (105).
- Seven of the nine Bulgarians to have played in the Premier League have scored a goal (78%). Of nations to have had more than five players appear in the Premier League, only Morocco (88%), Iceland (82%) and Croatia (79%) have a better percentage.