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Stoichkov made Bulgaria consul in Barcelona

"Mr. Stoichkov, welcome to our team," said Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov at the official ceremony.

"I'm confident that Stoichkov will continue to help all Bulgarians who turn to him for assistance and I hope he'll continue to be the connection between Bulgaria and the local authorities," Mladenov added.

Stoichkov, the 1994 European Footballer of the Year, was a key member of Barcelona's "Dream Team" who, under Dutch coach Johan Cruyff, won the Spanish league title four times in a row in the early 1990s. He still has a house in the region.

A former Bulgaria coach, and now an advisor at the Russian club Rostov, he was also instrumental in helping Barca to win their first European Cup in 1992.

"I accept this responsibility as a big challenge and I believe I'll be as successful as I was during my playing days," the 45-year-old Stoichkov, widely considered Bulgaria's most popular export, told reporters.

"More than 17,000 Bulgarians live in Catalonia and I'll do my best to assist these people if they need help."