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Manolov makes his mark at Valletta

Krassimir Manolov enjoyed success with Valletta both as a player and as a coach. In season 2000-01, the Bulgarian led the Citizens to a record haul of six honours.Krassimir Manolov enjoyed success with Valletta both as a player and as a coach. In season 2000-01, the Bulgarian led the Citizens to a record haul of six honours.

Krassimir Manolov was born in Plovdiv on October 31, 1956.

He comes from a great sporting family and his father, Hristov, was a Bulgarian international footballer. In addition, his wife Mikarlova was part of the Bulgarian basketball team that won silver at the Moscow Olympics and his daughter Katerina also played for the Bulgaria’s national basketball team.

Himself a very good footballer, Manolov played for five Bulgarian clubs before he came to Malta. He started his career with Lokomotiv Plovdiv in the First Division in 1972 and stayed with them for four seasons.

From Plovdiv, Manolov went to Akademisk Sofia and after two seasons, he was transferred to Trakia Plovdiv with whom he stayed until 1983.

Manolov then joined Shovmen FC but after a couple of uneventful seasons he moved to second division club Spartak Plovdiv.

Tall and elegantly built, Manolov was a clever attacking midfielder with a knack for scoring goals in important matches.

In all, he played 291 league matches in the Bulgarian league and scored an impressive total of 150 goals.

In 1987, Manolov decided to leave his native country to try his luck abroad. That season he joined Alki Larnaka in Cyprus. He stayed there for only one season during which he played 22 matches, scoring eight goals.

The next season Manolov headed to Malta and joined Valletta. He made his debut for the Citizens on October 30, 1988 against Sliema Wanderers.

Valletta lost that match 0-1 but Manolov kept his place in the team for the rest of the season.

Already an established international, he played seven times for the senior Bulgarian national team. He also played 21 times for the Under-21 team and scored 14 goals. In addition, he was chosen 34 times to play for the Under-18 team for whom he netted 19 goals.

With this pedigree, it was obvious that Manolov would be a success in the Maltese league.

Unfortunately, however, by now he was nearing the end of his playing career and only stayed with the Citizens for two seasons. Still, he played 28 times in the Premier League and scored seven goals.

During his two-year stint in the Maltese league, he won the championship in season 1989-90 as well as the Euro Cup and Super Cup.

After leaving Valletta, Manolov went to play for Balzan Youths and Marsa.

There is no doubt that Manolov was a very good striker.

Although he came to Malta very late in his career when his best days were already over, he still left his mark on the local game.

However, the Bulgarian enjoyed more success as a coach in Maltese football.

Coaching career

Manolov’s first coaching assignment was in 1994-95 when he was appointed technical director of Lokomotiv Plovdiv.

Then, the following season, he took over as head coach of Bulgarian second division club Rubella. In 1996-97, he returned to his old club Lokomotiv Plovdiv as head coach.

Manolov’s coaching career in Malta began in 1997-98 when he took over at Xgħajra Tornadoes.

The next season he moved to Valletta as successor to Edward Aquilina who had led the Valletta club through one of its most successful periods in their glorious history.

It was difficult for Manolov to follow in Aquilina’s boots but to his credit, he guided the City team through another three glorious seasons in which they won 10 honours.

These included the champion-ship title in 1998-99 and 2000-01 and the FA Trophy in the same two seasons.

The crowning moment of his time with Valletta came in 2000-01 when he led the Citizens to six major honours in one season, a record that stands to this day.

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