In 2011, a curious decision was made in Bulgaria’s footballer of the year elections. A Prime Minister won – also because of Lothar Matthäus.
When a prime minister who only plays football in his spare time is elected footballer of the year, one might think there was a technical error in the vote. In fact, Boyko Borissov won the election in 2011 – and then United striker Dimitar Berbatov was defeated.
How did this strange result come about? And why is Lothar Matthäus at least partly to blame for this? Let’s look first at Prime Minister Borissov.
In fact, Borisov won the 2011 Footballer of the Year election with an impressive 44 percent of the vote. The 63-year-old occasionally played in the third Bulgarian football league for Witischa Bistriza, but still prevailed against star striker Dimitar Berbatov.
Borisov immediately had an explanation ready and said: “This vote does not mean that Borisov is the best player”. In a letter, he continued: “It only shows that reforms and a new policy are needed in Bulgarian football.”
In fact, Borisov went so far as to want the election annulled. “I propose that the organizers annul the vote or give the title to the best young player.” Incidentally, Berbatov ended up in second place with 24 percent.
But how did this vote come about? Lothar Matthäus, the coach of the Bulgarian national team at the time, played a large part in what Borissov called the “protest vote”.
With Matthew: Poor performance by the Bulgarian national team
The country’s national team was heavily criticized by fans and the media at the time. The team had failed in qualifying for the 2012 European Championships with their coach Lothar Matthäus. As Borisov himself explained, Bulgarian football needed reform and development – which is why fans voted him Footballer of the Year.
Also the private Bulgarian radio station Darik explained the strange election result with the poor performance of the professionals in the Bulgarian clubs and the national team.
And in fact, Bayern legend Matthäus should suffer from that choice. Because in September 2011 the tenure as national coach ended after only one year. That should also be his last coaching position to date, because Matthäus then no longer took a seat on the coaching bench.
Officially, the lack of qualification for the European Championship was given as the reason – it is quite possible that the former Prime Minister of Bulgaria and the vote for Footballer of the Year also had a major influence on the decision.