Kiril Milanov dies aged 62

SOFIA, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Former Levski Sofia and Bulgaria striker Kiril Milanov, who said he was prevented from playing for a top European team by the country's communist regime, has died aged 62, the Sofia-based club said on Wednesday.

Milanov, considered one of the best forwards in Levski's history, never got proper international recognition despite receiving several lucrative offers from Europe's giants.

Some of the top names on the continent, including Ajax Amsterdam, wanted to him in the 1970s but he said he did not get the blessing of the Balkan country's communist authorities.

"I asked them to allow me at least to join an Austrian team... but I didn't get permission again," Milanov told local media in one of his last interviews.

Part of the Bulgaria team at the 1974 World Cup finals in Germany, he also holds the record for scoring the most goals in a single match in European club football.

In 1976, Milanov scored six times in Levski's 12-2 demolition of Finnish club Reipas Lahti in the European Cup Winners' Cup. He also scored four goals in the return leg and finished as the competition's top scorer with 13 goals.

Milanov was forced to finish his playing career in 1977 after a life ban from the local authorities following a bust-up with Lokomotiv Sofia defender Yordan Stoikov.

He remained a crowd favorite after the sanction but did not get the chance to resume his career despite several appeals.