Dimitar Berbatov says Manchester United fans misunderstand him

Dimitar Berbatov insists fans confuse his laid-back approach to football with a misguided belief that he does not care.

The Manchester United striker should be heading for the new campaign on a high after sharing the Premier League's Golden Boot prize with Carlos Tevez and firing the Red Devils to a record 19th title.

Instead, Berbatov is facing up to what most would perceive to be the biggest challenge of his career after he did not even manage a place on the bench for the Champions League final.

The Bulgarian is said to have spent the 3-1 defeat to Barcelona alone and in tears, trying to mask his desolation from concerned club officials.

Last week, in Chicago's Four Seasons Hotel, Berbatov was a more contented figure.

So obviously uncomfortable in an interview setting, the former Tottenham star had no wish to rake over the coals of that horrendous night.

However, speaking exclusively to Press Association Sport, he was keen to set the record straight about his attitude to the game.

"I am a very proud person," said the 30-year-old.

"I don't like to show my weaknesses. I don't want to show my emotions in public.

"That is why people probably sometimes misjudge me."

The truth is Berbatov wants to win. But he wants to win with style.

Throughout his career, no one criticised his style of play.

It was only following his arrival at Old Trafford, when demanding supporters watched him replace the obvious industry of Carlos Tevez, the sniping began at a player Sir Alex Ferguson was so convinced of he broke the club record by spending £30.75million.

"Yes," he said, when asked if the claim he does not care bothers him.

"I always play like this. That is what got me here.

"You are not going to see me puffing around the pitch. There is a saying in Bulgaria that great quality doesn't require much effort."

If that awful experience at Wembley is a no-go area, and so too any discussion about his contract, which is about to enter its final year, Berbatov is happy to talk about other matters.

Closest to his heart is the Dimitar Berbatov Foundation aimed at children of talent back home in Bulgaria who lack the resources to make the most of their abilities.

Berbatov's status as a role model sits comfortably on his shoulders, even if he recoils from the thought he could be regarded as an icon, reserving that status for his own hero, Hristo Stoichkov.

"When I was young, I was looking to people like Stoichkov," he said.

"I told myself one day I would like to be as successful as him. Dreams do come true sometimes."

Although there was one cataclysmic low, Berbatov experienced some dream days last year too.

The first United player to score a hat-trick against Liverpool in 64 years, a tally that included a magnificent overhead kick, the first non-Englishman to score five in a Premier League game, the Golden Boot for his 20-goal haul.

"I didn't know scoring three goals against Liverpool would mean so much to so many people," he reflected.

"Obviously three goals - and the second one was a bit special - it will stay in my memory for ever - and after that I scored five!

"What makes me really proud is that there have been so many foreigners playing in English football, I am the only one with five goals.

"But it is something I have to push to the back of my mind. Last season I had highs in my career. But what if we didn't win the title? Then these things wouldn't matter so much."

Talking to Berbatov, it is clear that he does care, both about his team and his performance.

It seems he wants to be liked, not in an arrogant way, but as an individual who tried to do things a little differently.

"As a good player, doing things the fans enjoyed," he replied, when asked how he would like to be remembered.

"I always tend to think my goals are beautiful goals. That is what I want to score; beautiful goals, and create beautiful chances."

How long will that attitude prevail at Old Trafford, where the challengers, all younger, are queuing up to oust him?

Berbatov does not answer. What he is prepared to concede is that once leaving United, the only way is down.

"Smaller clubs might be able to match Manchester United with the way they play, with their organisation, everything. But Manchester United are at the top," he said.

"Where can you go from there? Maybe Barcelona. At the moment, I don't see anything else.

"If you go somewhere else it is a big step down.

"I come from a small country. I have the good fortune to play for Manchester United. For the time I am here I try to do my best and win everything there is to win.

"There is no other way I can play."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test