Dan Coker's Match Preview
Ahead of England’s European Championships qualifier tomorrow, here’s a look back at West Ham United’s Bulgarian connection.
Svetoslav Todorov was born in Dobrich on 30th August 1978 and began his professional career with local side Dobrudzha Dobrich in 1996 before moving to Litex Lovech the following year. Todorov made his Bulgaria debut in 1998 and scored his first goal for the national team in a 4-1 win over Belarus in Sofia in March 2000.
After trials with Preston and West Ham, Todorov joined the Hammers in January 2001 for a fee of £500,000, rising to £2 million depending on appearances – he was one of the players bought by Harry Redknapp using the proceeds from the sale of Rio Ferdinand, alongside Rigobert Song, Christian Dailly, Ragnvald Soma and Titi Camara. The 22-year-old made his debut in a 3-0 defeat at Liverpool on 3rd February 2001 and scored his first goal for the Irons on his home debut in a 3-2 FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Tottenham at the Boleyn Ground on 11th March 2001. Todorov made seven substitute appearances before making his first start in a 3-0 home win against Southampton on 5th May 2001 – Redknapp’s final game in charge of the Hammers.
With Glenn Roeder taking caretaker charge for the final game of the 2000/01 season, Todorov scored his second and final goal for the Hammers in a 2-1 defeat at Middlesbrough on 19th May 2001. Roeder was given the job permanently that summer and Todorov started the opening two matches of the 2001/02 season in the absence of Frederic Kanoute. His final appearance for the club came as a substitute in a 3-2 defeat to Chelsea in an FA Cup fourth round replay at Upton Park on 6th February 2002. Having made 17 appearances for West Ham, scoring two goals, Todorov moved to Portsmouth, where Redknapp was Director of Football, in March 2002. Both of his Hammers goals can be viewed in my video below.
With Redknapp taking the manager’s job at Portsmouth in the summer of 2002, Todorov topped the First Division’s goalscoring charts with 26 goals as Portsmouth won promotion and the First Division title in 2002/03. He returned to the Bulgaria squad and scored a crucial goal in a 2-2 draw with Belgium to help his country eventually qualify for Euro 2004. Disaster was to strike for Todorov, however, when a training ground accident days before the opening of the 2003/04 Premier League season resulted in the striker damaging his cruciate knee ligament – he made his comeback at Liverpool in March 2004 but this was his sole appearance of the campaign. Further surgery on his knee was required, causing Todorov to miss Euro 2004 and the entirety of the 2004/05 Premier League season.
Todorov returned to action in the 2005/06 season, scoring against West Ham as Pompey won 4-2 at Upton Park in March 2006, a game which saw West Ham manager Alan Pardew rest members of his first team with his priority being an upcoming FA Cup quarter-final with Manchester City. He was part of Portsmouth’s Great Escape as they avoided relegation at the end of the season, and he started 2006/07 with two goals from his opening three games. He joined Wigan on a season-long loan later in August 2006 but the switch was unsuccessful and he returned to the South Coast in January 2007.
Having fallen down the pecking order at Fratton Park, Todorov joined newly-relegated Charlton in the Championship in the summer of 2007. He injured his knee in October of that year and was ruled out for the rest of the 2007/08 season. He returned to make 13 appearances in 2008/09, scoring once, before moving back to Bulgaria and Litex Lovech in July 2009. Having won the Supporters’ Player of the Year award in 2010, Todorov moved to Ukrainian side Hoverla Uzhhorod in the summer of 2012. He left the club in January 2013 and later announced his retirement. He had won 41 caps for Bulgaria between 1998 and 2007, scoring seven goals for his country.
Todorov returned to hometown club Dobrudzha Dobrich as manager in 2013 before departing the following year. He coached Bulgaria’s Under-19 side from 2015 to 2016 and briefly took over CSKA Sofia’s reserve side in 2017 before becoming manager of Botev Galabovo, also in 2017. He has also coached at Crystal Palace’s academy. Now 41, Todorov was appointed first-team coach at Southend earlier this summer – Shrimpers manager Kevin Bond was one of Todorov’s coaches during his time at Portsmouth. The Bulgarian replaced Kevin Keen at Roots Hall, when Keen returned to West Ham to manage the Hammers’ Under-18 side.
Finally, congratulations to Ian Fowler who is the Manager of the Month for August in The Official WHTID Fantasy League!