“He was phenomenal”: Man United icon Dimitar Berbatov reveals the only player he ever swapped shirts with
If you were to only ever swap shirts with one player in your career, this one is definitely something to boast about.
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Manchester United icon Dimitar Berbatov was never a man for swapping shirts with opponents during his playing days, but there was one opportunity that he absolutely could not turn down.
Before his move to Old Trafford in 2008, the former Bulgaria captain rose into the limelight during his time with Bayer Leverkusen. It was during his time in the Bundesliga that he had his first real starstruck experience when coming up against another player.
That player was the one and only Ronaldo — the Brazilian sensation. After a Champions League clash with Real Madrid back in 2004, Berbatov knew he needed to break his usual rule and get his hands on the icon’s shirt.
Berbatov starstruck over Ronaldo
During his appearance on BT Sport’s ‘What I Wore’, Berbatov identified a classic Real Madrid R9 shirt and told the story of his one and only shirt swap interaction. The 42-year-old scored Leverkusen’s only goal in a 1-1 draw against Los Blancos at their home stadium.
The ex-striker stressed that while he respected every player he came up against during his career, he was always too focused on winning the match to ever engage in any post-match shirt exchanges.
“Once in a while, there were players and you wanted their shirt. Ronaldo was one of these guys — he was phenomenal, we all know that,” he started.
“We played the Bernabéu with Leverkusen and I was very shy back in the day, but I wanted his shirt and I didn’t have the heart to ask him.”
Berbatov then turned to his Brazilian teammate, Juan, and urged him to do him a solid and ask for Ronaldo’s match shirt on his behalf. The Bulgarian said he was “praying” that Juan would return with the goods, and sure enough, he came back with the jersey in his hand, which he still has in his house to this day, almost 20 years later.
“This is the moment where I wanted just one shirt,” Berbatov said, smiling.