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PFC Spartak Pleven Shirt Year Unknown, 20 Match Worn

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Another shirt of poorer quality, but still one worth showcasing (due to its rarity), is this (very) Extra Large sized Puma shirt from PFC Spartak Pleven. They are a third division Bulgarian side playing in the V AFG from the North-Western city of Pleven, Bulgaria’s seventh largest city.  They ply their trade in the 22,000 capacity Pleven Stadium. As an interesting note, the side went bankrupt in 2009—their 90th year, having been founded in 1919—but were re-founded quickly in 2010. It isn’t surprising that they folded—their biggest achievement to date is an appearance in the Bulgarian Cup final in 1957. This shirt features a nice mid-1990s Puma design (which is why I like it as part of the collection) while the fabric is of questionable quality—similar to the PFC Nesebar shirt seen here. The sponsor Miko Consult and number 20 are both screen printed in poor quality, but at least the Puma logos made it into the numbers (always a detail I appreciate in football shirts). Having not yet visited Pleven I can’t vouch for the quality of the city but if I make it out there I’ll add a feature on the Pleven stadium.

 

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PFC Nesebar Shirt Year Unknown, 15 Matchworn

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This poorer quality PFC Nesebar shirt is still worth featuring as it is from Nesebar, a town (also a UNESCO world heritage site) that holds a place of fond memories in my mind having visited there a few years back. 35 Kilometers north of Nesebar is Sunny Beach—Slanchev Bryag—as is noted on the back of the shirt beneath the number 15. I only caught a short glimpse from a bus window of PFC Nesebar’s Nesebar stadium en route to Sunny Beach. Still, the classic Puma design of fading colors around the sleeve—obviously very period-ey from the mid 1990s—warrant a picture or two. To me the colors are fitting for a seaside footballing side. All details of this (very large) Extra Large sized Puma shirt are screen printed on, as is fitting for a side that currently resides in the third division of Bulgarian football, the V AFG. While I wouldn’t recommend any travelers looking for a classy vacation to visit Sunny Beach, it is still a good time for the younger crowd—sunny beaches, cheap beers, and beautiful people are always a good draw in the summer. For the more cultured I’d recommend Nesebar’s old town, as a walk through the cobblestoned streets is a romantic experience for the intrepid traveller that is not to be missed. After all, it led to the purchase of this shirt!

 

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For The Intrepid Traveler a Few Shots of the Beautiful Black Sea and Historic Nesebar, From My Visit:

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Botev Plovdiv 1994-95 Home Shirt, 7

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An amazing Botev Plovdiv shirt, what more can I say? Well of course I can say more, but please allow me the hyperbole. I sadly was not able to get a clear view of the Hristo Botev stadium on my visit to Plovdiv but the fact that the team is named after a poet is cause for interest in itself. In fact, I even met a Turkish ex-footballer who himself later became a poet in my visit to Plovdiv. Who knew football and poetry where so connected? It is also a reason that I aim to make it to the Lokomotiv-Botev derby some time soon. Botev are also the oldest Bulgarian side currently competing, as well as a “brother club” to Greek side Aris Thessaloniki due to the fact that they share the same colors. I mention this “Balkan Brotherhood” in my write up of the Thessaloniki derby between Aris and Paok.

After finding a faded picture of the team wearing this particular shirt on the walls of a shop in Plovdiv I made it my mission to find the shirt and—by way of the internet—I was ultimately successful. It is a size large Diadora shirt in the classic quarters that served as their template in the mid 1990s. The fact that Italian manufacturer Diadora was also one of the first Western brands to sponsor a Bulgarian team following the fall of communism only adds to its value. The Fincomm sponsor and club badge are sewn into the fabric; the number 7 is lightly screen printed on. The squares of black fading into yellow around the sponsor are certainly the most beautiful features of this particular shirt.

 

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A Sign of the Times (Courtesy of: http://canary4ever.com/en/photo3.php AND http://newjackus.ucoz.ru/blog/futbolnye_kluby_botev_plovdiv_bolgarija/2011-08-07-232

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My Photo of Hristo Botev Standing Sentinel at the Stadium Gates.

Levski Sofia 1996-98 Home Shirt, 19

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Another classic Levski shirt and another classic Adidas design. This one is from the 1996-1998 seasons, when Levski thrashed “eternal” rivals CSKA Sofia in the 1998 cup final 5-0. The pictures below are from the cup final. I’m not very sure about the authenticity of this shirt, but I don’t care too much since—in my mind—it is one of Adidas’ best templates, one that was used across Europe in the mid to late 1990s. On the front is the sponsor, BKC-2, screen printed along with the club’s classic badge, also screen printed. On the back is the number 19, screen printed, in the classic three dimensional style. This shirt is sized extra large and definitely runs large in terms of fit, as shirts from the era traditionally did. For more Levski shirts please see the 1993-94 home version here and the 2006-07 home version here.

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Cup Triumphs are Sweeter Against City Rivals:

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Courtesy Of: http://www.oocities.org/colosseum/loge/3177/kupa-98.html

Levski Sofia 1993-94 Home Shirt, 13 Matchworn

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This is one of the Levski shirts I acquired by way of the internet. By comparing it to other match worn Adidas pieces from the era I am confident in calling this one match worn, due to the shirt’s fabric. While the outside is the shiny fabric standard to Adidas shirts from the era, the inside is a thicker, almost felt like fabric. On the back is a player-sized number 13, heat pressed in felt material. On the front is the classic Balkanbank sponsor heat pressed in felt material along with the club’s badge—the Cryllic letter “L”—in the same material. This shirt also sports the classic three stripes of Adidas which are sewn on, descending to the chest from the left shoulder. Many big club teams of the era used this classic design, including Liverpool, Bayern Munich, and Sparta Prague. Many football associations chose this design as well—Ireland, Sweden, and even the United States are among them. This is definitely one of my favorite shirts, since I’m a sucker for Adidas’ classic designs. And yes, Levski were crowned champions of Bulgaria in this shirt. For other Levski shirts the 2006-07 version can be seen here, the 1996-1998 version here.

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Team Pic:

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Courtesy Of: http://levskifanclub.ovo.bg/photo/sstava_prez_godinite/1993/4-0-464

 

Levski Sofia in action against Glasgow Rangers in the European Cup, a 2-1 victory over the Scottish giants in Sofia—note the large sized Cryllic “L”, the club’s classic badge. This detail leads me to believe that this shirt may have been used in European Competition.

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Courtesy Of: http://www.levski.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=9438

Levski Sofia 2006-07 Home Shirt

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I got this Levski Sofia shirt at the Georgi Aspurahov Stadium after a lengthy adventure following the derby against Lokomotiv Sofia. Unfortunately, the shirt is not nearly as spectacular as the adventure to acquire it was. It is an uninspiring design in Levski’s classic blue, manufactured by Uhlsport in a standard fabric, with heat pressed sponsor MTel and badge applied in felt. This is the design Levski used in their first (and to date only) adventure in the Champions League Group Stages, one that saw giants Barcelona and Chelsea travel to Sofia. That said, there are not many other redeeming qualities for this shirt. Due to my disappointment with this shirt I had to scour the internet, where I was able to find two more impressive Levski shirt from the 1990s, both of which sport classic Adidas designs. The 1993-94 Levski home shirt can be seen here, while the 1996-98 home shirt can be seen here.

 

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Lokomotiv Sofia 2006-08, Home Shirt, Antunovic 14 UEFA Cup Match Worn

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This is a favorite among my Bulgarian shirts due to the memories attached to it. I got it on a visit to the Lokomotiv Stadium from one of the employees at the café through the assistance of my friend Yana Raycheva’s expert translations. At the time it carried with it a putrid odor—nothing a good wash couldn’t fix. As for the shirt itself, it is a standard fabric made by the Italian manufacturer Asics. Asics was a big producer of Bulgarian shirts during these years; Slavia Sofia’s shirt from the era is also made by the Italian brand. It is size Extra Large. Also, the design used by Asics is to be commended–the curvature of the stripes around the neck line add a lot to this shirt, a little detail that makes it more than just another striped kit.

What makes this shirt especially rare is that it was worn in the UEFA cup by Serbian striker Sasa Antunovic—he made 78 appearances for Lokomotiv between 2004 and 2009 netting 30 goals. In the 2007-08 edition of the UEFA cup—when this shirt was worn—Lokomotiv faced French side Rennes, losing 4-3 on aggregate over two legs. Antunovic himself even scored a brace in Lokomotiv’s surprise 2-1 first leg victory in France. The hallmarks of a player shirt include screen printed name and number in player spec size, as well as the UEFA cup patch applied in felt to the right arm and a sewn on club badge.

For video of one of the matches please see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysN8iDok3Nc

 

My Thanks to Yana Raycheva Whose Translations Were Invaluable in Acquiring This Shirt.

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Sasa Antunovic himself in the shirt:

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Courtesy of: http://www.footballdatabase.eu/football.joueurs.sasa.antunovic.23041.en.html

 

Two images of this model of shirt being worn in a match. The first is from domestic league action, the second from the 2006-07 UEFA Cup in a tie with Feyenoord of Holland:

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Courtesy Of: http://www.segabg.com/article.php?id=290343

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Courtesy Of: http://www.footmanager.net/forum/lokomotiv-sofia-t1955.html

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