This week we saw Dimitar Berbatov officially announce his retirement from football.
The 38-year-old took to Instagram to announce the decision, saying: “I did it my way!”
The Bulgarian will go down as one of the finest technicians of his era and enjoyed a fantastic club career that spanned six countries, eight clubs and included over 500 league appearances.
His Premier League career, that involved spells at Spurs and Manchester United as well as a stint at Fulham, was full of get-out-your-seat moments and made you question whether you’d seen such a natural footballer on English soil.
Here’s our attempt at picking out his seven best moments during his time in the Premier League.
1. His First Premier League Goal
After joining from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2006 for £10.9m, a fee that made him the most expensive Bulgarian footballer ever, Berbatov took only two games to get off the mark in the Premier League.
His goal was created down the right by Aaron Lennon, who used his trickery and speed to work a driven cross across the face of the Sheffield United goal. On the end of it, all alone, was Berbatov to tuck away his maiden goal for the club and kickstart a fine career in north London.
It was by no means his best goal (probably his easiest) or an important one (the first in a 2-0 win over the Blades on matchday two), but your first Premier League goal is your first Premier League goal.
2. Partnership With Robbie Keane
Despite playing with the likes of Wayne Rooney among others, Berbatov never had a better strike partner than Irishman Robbie Keane.
A UEFA Cup game against Club Brugge in November, where Berbatov scored two and set up Keane for the other, convinced Spurs boss Martin Jol that the pair should play together more often.
It was a partnership that became a pleasure to watch. Keane the passionate, hard-working one with the fun celebrations and chirpy nature; Berbatov the aloof, laid-back one who could make any movement on the pitch seem effortless.
The pair were that in-sync that they both won the Player of the Month award in April 2007 and by the end of the campaign; Keane had finished with 22 goals, Berba with 23.
Although a brief partnership, it was one Spurs fans will never forget.
3. ‘That’ Turn Against West Ham
Berbatov left Spurs in 2008, signing for reigning Premier League champions Manchester United for £30.75m.
By the time West Ham travelled to Old Trafford at the end of October, the Bulgarian front-man had failed to get going at his new club, having scored just one league goal.
It wasn’t a goal that Berbatov will be remembered for on that night, but instead a piece of magic that would later be named the ‘Berba Spin’.
It all started with Berbatov doing well to keep an overhit Anderson pass in-play close to the byline, then, in one sublime movement, Berbatov spun, pirouetted and danced away from West Ham defender James Collins.
The defender was still coming to his senses as Berbatov advanced towards goal and slid a beautifully weighted pass across the six-yard area for Cristiano Ronaldo, who got his second of the game.
It was the first time the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ got to see the magic of Berbatov, with Sir Alex Ferguson describing the piece of skill as “stunning” and “magnificent” in his post-match interview.
4. His First Premier League Title
His performances at Spurs helped them to the Carling Cup in 2008, their first piece of silverware since 1999, but they were never likely to challenge for a title during Berbatov’s time at the club.
In his first season at Old Trafford, United won the title for the third term running, overcoming Liverpool by four points.
Berbatov enjoyed a fine season in 2008/09, scoring nine goals and setting up the same amount, only Rooney and Ronaldo scoring more for the Red Devils that season.
That season also saw him score three game-winning goals, including a stoppage-time winner over Bolton in January 2008.
Although it wasn’t Berbatov’s best season statistically as he adjusted to life in a new environment, his first Premier League crown has to go on this list.
5. Hat-Trick Against Liverpool
United lost their title to Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea in 2009/10, leaving Ferguson’s side desperate to regain their crown the season after, which they went and did.
One game that sticks out from that season was the 3-2 win over Liverpool at Old Trafford, a game where Berbatov became the first man for United to score a hat-trick against Liverpool in 64 years.
His first came from a Ryan Giggs corner, the striker doing exceptionally well to reach back and head home expertly, holding off Fernando Torres in the process. Although his first was good, the second will be the one that will always be remembered.
A left-footed cross down the right by Nani was brought down with such ease by Berbatov’s thigh, 13-yards out and with his back to goal, before Berba delivered a world-class overhead-kick over Jamie Carragher and past a stationary Pepe Reina in the Liverpool goal. Truly brilliant.
However, his third of the match might have been the most important. After Liverpool had made it 2-2, Berbatov came up trumps once more in the 84th minute, leaping above Carragher to nod home a John O’Shea cross and send Old Trafford into pandemonium.
6. His Performance Against Blackburn
Really, a performance against Blackburn, really? Yes, it was that good.
This was, arguably, his best individual showing in a United shirt as the Red Devils ran out 7-1 victors.
Berbatov, who had six league goals coming into this November fixture, added another five to his tally, becoming just the fourth man to score five in one Premier League game.
His hat-trick goal summed him up as a player perfectly. He picked up the ball deep in his own half before effortlessly linking up with Patrice Evra down the left, when the ball fell to him just short of the halfway line, he played an exquisite crossfield pass to Nani along the ground with the lace of his boot. Inch-perfect.
He then waltzed into the box all alone, waiting for Nani to pick him out, which he did and Berba finished it off with a simple finish into the top-left corner. Precision.
Berbatov’s 20 league goals were pivotal for United regaining their crown that season.
7. Showing His Class Against Aston Villa
We had to find a way to get all of his Premier League teams involved!
Berbatov left United in 2012 for Fulham. He scored 19 league goals in 51 appearances at Craven Cottage, but his most memorable moment in west London was his touch against Aston Villa.
Just watch look up the video. It’s one of the best touches in Premier League history.
If that’s a thing? It’s definitely a thing.