Stoichkov: Being at Espanyol with my name was like someone called Messi playing for Real Madrid

LaLiga Named after Bulgarian Barcelona legend

'Stoichkov' poses for MARCA
‘Stoichkov’ poses for MARCA
ngel Rivero

His name may be Juan Diego Molina, but only his mother doesn’t call him Stoichkov. The midfielder owes his name to his father’s obsession with the former Barcelona star.

But coming through at Espanyol was a little odd, being named after a Barcelona icon, as he explained when he sat to speak with MARCA.

I understand you’re called Stoichkov because of your father’s fondness for Barcelona and the Bulgarian…

Yes, he had a bar in Barcelona and one day Hristo Stoichkov came in for breakfast and liked it a lot. My father was a keen follower of his and when he saw how he was in person, he said that, if he had a son, he’d call him Stoichkov. In the end, my mother wouldn’t let him, but everyone has called me that since before I played football, except for her, of course.

You played at Espanyol as a youth. A strange situation being called by the name of an eternal rival’s legend?

Sure, they even told me to avoid being called Stoichkov because of the rivalry. It’s like going to play for Real Madrid and being called Messi.

Would you say you play like him?

??I’m not so aggressive, but it’s true that I don’t like losing anything. He also packed a lot of punch and scored goals.

You had almost completed a move to Malaga this summer, but ended up at Alcorcon…

All that was needed was for the Malaga president to sign, but in the end we got tired of waiting and Alcorcon showed the most interest in me. I don’t regret the decision at all and I’m very happy here. I’ve been treated very well since I arrived.

Do you think you’re at the best level you’ve shown in your career?

On a personal level, I feel very good now. But I always have things to improve and I think I can give more. I could say I’m at my best because I’m playing and scoring goals. But last year I achieved promotion to the top flight and that’s huge.

What are you like off the pitch?

I’m funny, very happy. I always like to get up to nonsense. I’m also very family oriented and humble. I love being with my family and friends.

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