17.05.06

Josep Maria Raduà: A Bulgarian with a Catalan heart

A Bulgarian with a Catalan heart
Josep Maria Raduà
08/02/2006
A Bulgarian with a Catalan heart
Josep Maria Raduà
08/02/2006
There might always be someone who disagrees, but many believe –as I do– that to carry out great projects, no efforts or resources of any sort may be spared, regardless of where they come from and their style, history and disposition. With the meritorious and persevering enterprise of obtaining the official status of Catalan National Teams, Catalonia has counted for many years on an ambassador of unquestionable value, will and commitment: Hristo Stòitxkov, whose birthday is one of these days, more specifically, on February 8. Happy birthday! The Bulgarian coach, a man with an indubitable Catalan identity who defended the Barça shirt between 1990 and 1995 and between 1996 and 1998 as a player, has exhibited the Catalan flag on the grass of Wembley (among other pitches) and in TV studios, always on the own initiative of this man born in Plovdiv. He also asked for it –the Catalan flag– to be painted on his face for a report in a newspaper. In addition to these initiatives, of making “castells” (Catalan tradition of building human towers), of speaking Catalan when he pleases to, it is a well-known fact that he has adopted the Catalan flag as the captain’s armband of the Bulgarian Team, or that he has played with a Catalan shirt under the Bulgarian one on several occasions. Furthermore, during his first 1990-91 football season, he did not hesitate to openly assert that he already had a Catalan heart, making true that, without ever renouncing his home country, Bulgaria, from then on he had adopted a second emotional home country, Catalonia, one that he would never abandon. He himself explains in his autobiography –published in 1995 with the collaboration of Francesc Aguilar and Xavi Torres– that his people had fought for 500 years to obtain independence and that he would never forget it. Catalonia shall not forget either how you have always fought for our sports teams…, how in 1990 you played as captain of Catalonia and scored the goal, how in 1995 you played your last match before you signed for Parma towards the four-barred team and with Barça, how in 1997 you and Josep Maria Minguella collaborated together to find a great rival for the Christmas match of the team, how in the 98-99 season you participated together with the Pro-teams Platform at conferences and different events all over to sensitise everybody, and, finally, how recently you have come back to the arena being the only Catalan from abroad –or the foreigner, according to El Mundo, ABC and COPE– who has stood up to in the campaign “Una Nació, Una Selecció” (“One Nation, One Team”) organised by www.seleccions.org and the Platform presided by Xavier Vinyals. Hristo, thank you so much for your commitment, we hope that the new generations of foreigners who have arrived in our country integrate themselves into Catalonia and advocate the teams as well as you do. Article by Josep Maria Raduà, author of a book on the history of all the Catalan sports teams.