Football News

“It was like we were sleeping together” – Dimitar Berbatov on the strike partnership that destroyed Bayern Munich

By Ben Green

Published: 10:48, 8 April 2020

Former Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur striker Dimitar Berbatov has revealed the best strike partner he had during his career.

The Bulgaria legend struck up some illustrious partnerships during his playing days, including with Oliver Neuville and Ulf Kirsten at Bayer Leverkusen, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez at Man Utd, and Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe at Spurs.

Who is Berbatov’s best-ever strike partner? Five things to know… 

  • Berbatov played with German icons Neuville and Kirsten as Leverkusen reached the Champions League final in 2002.
  • He went on to represent Spurs with distinction and partnered Premier League icons Keane and Defoe.
  • The Bulgarian moved to Man Utd in 2008 for £30.75m and starred in Sir Alex Ferguson’s side alongside Tevez and Rooney.
  • He would also play alongside the likes of Michael Owen, a young Anthony Martial at Monaco and ex-Liverpool forward Andriy Voronin in his heyday.
  • However, the iconic Man Utd figure has now revealed he flourished best alongside ex-Leverkusen teammate Franca.

The revered marksman enjoyed a long and trophy-laden career, plying his trade for some of Europe’s heavyweight clubs, while establishing some of the game’s most prolific combinations in the final third.

However, it was not his lethal association with Rooney at Old Trafford or his telepathic understanding with Keane in the capital where Berbatov enjoyed the peak of his powers, but rather, a certain partnership with ex-Leverkusen teammate Franca.

The eight-time Brazil international spent just three years in Europe after relocating from Sao Paulo in 2002 before moving to Japan in 2005, but in that time he left a lasting impression on one of the game’s great forwards.

“The likes of Rooney and Keane, we complemented each other, and that’s even if you don’t speak a lot outside the pitch,” Berbatov told Goal. “You respect each other for what you do on the pitch.

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“You see what each other can do and how you help each other get better. In turn, you help the team. Everyone wins. At Leverkusen, I had a great partnership with a guy called França. We scored so many goals. We destroyed Bayern Munich 4-1 one season.

“We both got two goals each. He didn’t speak English or German so outside the pitch we didn’t say a word. Literally nothing. Honestly, nothing. I saw how he trained and played on the pitch and the other way around.

3. Spieltag 2004/05: 4-1 gegen FCB

🗞️ "Bayer im Spielrausch!" hieß es am 28. August 2004 nach Abpfiff der Partie #B04FCB – wer erinnert sich? 😍#FlashbackFriday

Gepostet von Bayer 04 Leverkusen am Freitag, 12. Januar 2018


“When we stepped on the pitch, man, it was like we were sleeping together! I was enjoying playing with that guy. Unbelievable. Not selfish. I was in a better position and he would give me the ball. When I gave him the ball, he scored.

“It was like Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke. It was unbelievable how we played together. Playing with him helped me develop. I appreciate that when I play with players better or on my level. You can always learn something.”


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