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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May, 2004, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
The alternative guide to Bulgaria
What do we really know about the 16 nations taking part in Euro 2004?

From their footballing pedigree to their favourite food, find out about the countries heading to Portugal.

Footballing legend:

Hristo Stoichkov
Stoichkov: Angry at times, but talented
One player that means more to Bulgarians than any other is Hristo Stoichkov.

He helped the national side to fourth place at the 1994 World Cup.

While at club level, he was instrumental in helping Barcelona win the 1992 European Cup and picked up the European Footballer of the Year award two years later.

Stoichkov was a controversial figure during his playing career.

He was banned for six months after charging at a referee in his first Primera Liga season. Barca fans immediately took a shine to him, whereas officials immediately showed him a card.

Dish of the day:

Bulgarian food is influenced by Slavonic, Greek and Turkish cuisines.

How about starting a Bulgarian meal with a Shopska salad (salad topped off by grated goat's cheese)?

Then for the main course, try a kavarma which is a casserole of pork or veal with onions and mushrooms.

Then round off the meal with some yoghurt - a dessert that some claim originated from the country.

Just think, if some careless so-and-so hadn't let the milk go off by mistake, we'd still be living in blissful ignorance.

National treasures:

BBC Computer
Atasanoff's idea may have led to the creation of the BBC computer
How many people knew that the man who invented the first electronic computer was of Bulgarian descent?

No, neither did we.

John Vincent Atanasoff, whose father was from Bulgaria, was born in New York in the early 20th century.

He went to Iowa University and met Clifford E Berry who helped him produce the Atanasoff-Berry Computer.

Unfortunately the invention was dismantled without Atanasoff's knowledge.

Some people, eh?

Eurovision pedigree:

Bulgaria have never competed at the Eurovision Song Contest.

However, Bulgarian Nora Nova sang for Germany in the 1964 competition.

Nora came 13th with Man Gewohnt Sich So Schnell An Das Schone, which apparently is the longest song title in Eurovision history - it also scored nil points.

What a waste of pen and paper.

National dress:

Bulgaria has more than one style of national dress.

Different communities in the country's many regions have their own traditional costumes.

For example on the Danube Plain and north slopes of the Stara Planina, women wear the 'bruchnik' or double apron.

Whereas in mountainous parts of the country and Thrace, in the south-east, ladies choose to wear the soukman or closed tunic.

The men on the other hand have the choice of belodresnik or chernodresnik, which is a white or black dress.

The colours, however, tend to be brown or blue. Go figure.

Bulgaria's Yordan Letchkov
Letchkov and his amazing head

Magic moment:

The 1994 World Cup finals certainly produced a great number of high points for the Bulgarian national side.

But arguably their best moment came in the quarter-finals against Germany.

In front of their legion of fans at the New York Giants Stadium, Bulgaria came from 1-0 down to beat the defending champions, thanks to goals from Stoichkov and the bald-headed Yordan Letchkov.

Nightmare moment

Aside from the several occasions Bulgaria have failed to qualify for a major tournament, their nightmare moment came in the semi-finals of the 1994 World Cup when they were outclassed by Italy.

Although the 2-1 scoreline suggests a narrow defeat, it was anything but. In fact, Great Uncle Bulgaria could have done better.

Links to more Bulgaria stories



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