Former Bulgaria defender Ivanov dies aged 50

Trifon Ivanov, who starred in the Bulgaria team at the 1994 World Cup, has died at the age of 50.

Former Bulgaria international Trifon Ivanov has died at the age of 50.

The Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) confirmed on Saturday that the former Real Betis centre-back had passed away. It is reported that he suffered a heart attack.

The BFU described Ivanov, who was a key component of the side which reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in 1994, as "one of the best defenders in the history of Bulgarian football".

"Before being a great player, Trifon was a great man," the statement added. "We all mourn the loss of a true friend."

He enjoyed success at club level with CSKA Sofia and Rapid Vienna in particular, reaching the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final with the Austrian side in 1996.

Ivanov, who won 77 caps for his country, had been hospitalised last year with heart problems.