Barcelona left-back Jordi Alba has revealed that former Barca player Hristo Stoichkov was his hero as a child.
The Spanish international was born near the Catalan capital in L’Hospitalet and says that when he was a youngster he tried to emulate the Bulgarian striker, who spent two spells at the Camp Nou between 1990 and 1998 either side of a season with Parma.
“My favourite player was Hristo Stoichkov. I loved Hristo when he was playing for Barcelona,” said Alba in an interview with UEFA.com.
“At the time I played more or less in his position and I liked seeing him in action because he stamped his character on both his teammates and the fans. I followed everything he did and said.
“Barca had some very good players but it was Stoichkov’s character I liked most of all.”
Alba returned to La Blaugrana from Valencia at the start of this season after seven years as a youngster at the club’s academy and recalled how was discarded at the age of 16.
“I took it well. I never doubted I’d go far and I never fell apart. I was still enjoying my football and the only thing I wanted to do was play.
“I always wanted to be a footballer and now I’m enjoying moments like those at last summer’s European Championships.”
He also spoke of his relationship with Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova.
“Tito is a very hard-working Coach who helps you a lot in any way he can. Before games he gives me advice in one way or another, but he also gives us total freedom to play,” he said, before also remembering his time with Valencia.
“I was lucky enough to play there and it is a club that gave me so much, although it’s obvious that Barcelona is a massive club, the best in the world.
“At the end of the day, wherever you go here people know you.”