Match official Ildefonso Urízar Azpitarte was invited to today's tribute event in Sofia. Stoichkov stamped on the ref's foot during the 1990 Super Cup final.
Bulgaria will pay tribute to one of its most famous sons tomorrow when the Sports Ministry and mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova will hold an event for Hristo Stoichkov. Still a huge idol in his homeland, the former striker will present a new biography which will include a chapter dedicated to an incident involving Spanish referee Urízar Azpitarte almost 30 years ago.
Stoichkov hasn't forgotten what happened at Camp Nou on 5 December 1990 and has personally invited Urizar and his wife over to the Bulgarian capital to attend the event. The former referee has accepted the invitation.
That Super Cup first leg would mark Stoichkov for the rest of his playing days. With five minutes to go to half-time, the Barça player feigned a foul by Real Madrid full-back Chendo as the two went for a loose ball by the byline. Stoichkov went down clutching his leg but Urizar Azpitarte was having none of it and waved play on. Barça coach Johan Cruyff was livid, and raced off the bench to protest, screaming at Urizar: “Always the same, only giving decisions to one side!”, as the ref recalled in his match notes. Urizar tried to calm Cruyff down, but ended up sending him off. That was the final straw for Stoichkov who sank his studs into the Basque ref's right foot, sending him stumbling off, doubled up in pain: “All of a sudden, he came towards me, and stamped on my instep. I tried to remain calm, but I was in a lot of pain. I could have suspended the game in that moment”. Once he had recovered, Urizar reached for his red card and sent Stoichkov off. The player was later hit with a six-month suspension.
While Stoichkov has maintained in the past that he has no regrets about what he did that night, he has done now and admits it had negative consequences for the rest of his career. Since that moment he decided to try to control his volatile character. Tomorrow he will have the chance to say sorry to Urizar in person, in Sofia.