Darren Bent recalled Dimitar Berbatov was not the easiest person to get to know and explained he felt so superior his teammates at Tottenham and Fulham that he barely spoke to anyone off the pitch.
And when we say ‘off the pitch’, we literally mean as soon as he left the field. That was it. Berba-out.
Berbatov is remembered as one of the most naturally talented players the Premier League has ever seen, and also one of the biggest maverick stars.
Sure, he built the reputation for his languid style and for being ‘lazy’, but when he turned it on the Bulgarian did things few other players could pull off, and with the flair and nonchalance that made it seem it was as easy as walking.
It was the kind of arrogance you want to see from a goalscorer, who knew exactly how good he was.
And he was arrogant, according to another of his former Spurs teammates Jamie O’Hara, but when you were as good as Berba was, you have a right to be.
In a recent interview with talkSPORT, Berbatov reflected on his arrival to the Premier League with Spurs, moving from Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in 2006, and remembered thinking: ‘Wait a minute, Spurs want me? What? Not Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United?’
Berba eventually did get his move to Old Trafford, where he won two Premier League titles, another League Cup and was runner-up in the Champions league in 2009[/caption]
And in an Instagram post to confirm his retirement in September last year – which was a year after he last played a professional game – the striker even wrote: ‘I did it my way! I played the way I wanna play, and I scored the goals I wanted to score!’
Well, you can’t argue with that.
But, somewhat predictably and despite his mercurial talent, it appears he wasn’t the biggest team-player away from the field.
From Bent’s account of playing with him at Tottenham and during his later spell with Fulham, at least. When he joined Manchester United, where he scored 56 goals in 149 games and won two Premier League titles, it was a different story.
Asked what it was like playing with the seven-time Bulgarian footballer of the year, Bent told the talkSPORT Breakfast: “Well, it wasn’t difficult, because he never spoke to me!
“We could be in the club canteen, completely empty, and I could be sitting at one table and he would go and sit at another table.
“There’s no one in the planet he would come and sit next to to have a conversation with.
“I don’t know if it was shyness, or what, and it wasn’t just me.
“There could be me and another teammate sitting there talking, there could be five extra seats on our table, and he’d sit at the table further away from us.
“I was used to it, because I played with him at Spurs first, and this was when I was at Fulham with him as well.
“I just told the other lads: ‘Yeah, that’s just Berba’.
“But when I asked a few of the Manchester United players who played with him: ‘Was he like that when he was with you? They were like: ‘No!’
“But it’s because they didn’t allow him to get away with that at Manchester United, he was forced to, they kind of made him do it.
“But with us, because he was obviously the best player, he was like: ‘Nah thanks’.”
Bent said that didn’t really matter at Spurs because the Premier League Golden Boot winner delivered on the pitch, but at Fulham his ‘superiority’ created a bit of an awkward atmosphere in the dressing room.
“At Fulham it was quite tough for him and he ended up leaving, but at Spurs on the pitch he was absolutely sensational, his touch, everything about him.
“So he was that way in the dressing room and the canteen and didn’t really speak to anyone, but to be fair to him on the pitch he was a team-player.
“He might not have run as much as some people, but you know he’d always make the right pass, he always had that bit of quality that could win you the game, so he could kind of get away with it.
“But when he was at Fulham it wasn’t really happening for him, and then you put that with the canteen stuff as well, it becomes a difficult environment.
“He can be frustrating, but at Fulham not one person shouted at him because he was the best player.
“It was like he was so superior to everybody people didn’t think it was their right to say anything to him, even if he made the wrong decisions and made mistakes, which did happen sometimes, no one ever said anything to him.”