As Pep Guardiola and Ronald Koeman prepare to go head to head in the Premier League this weekend, Hristo Stoichkov is not surprised to see both men at the top of their game.
Guardiola’s Manchester City welcome Koeman’s Everton to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, bringing together two men who helped lead Barca to a plethora of trophies in the early 1990s.
Stoichkov played alongside both Guardiola and Koeman at Barcelona, the trio winning four LaLiga titles together and Barca’s first European Cup.
Guardiola went on to lead the Catalan giants to three further league triumphs as head coach, plus two Champions League triumphs as they dominated Spanish and European football.
Meanwhile, Koeman enjoyed success with Ajax and PSV as a manager, before taking Southampton to their best Premier League finishes in the past two seasons.
Seeing his former team-mates succeed following their retirement was no shock for Bulgaria legend Stoichkov, who saw their desire to coach from the early days at Camp Nou.
“I always knew that if one day Pep and Ronald decided to become coaches, they would be great at it. They are doing exceptional jobs,” he told The Telegraph.
“When you are a young footballer you never think you will one day become a coach.
“But without a doubt I did think Pep and Ronald could become coaches. As players they wanted to achieve the best results possible, it is only natural that they would apply this same mentally in their careers as coaches.
“I saw Pep grow day by day while in Barcelona, he enjoyed conversations with his team-mates. He liked having authority on the field, having control of the ball.
“He was very meticulous, he was always paying attention to a lot of details, I believe he has been able to apply the same model he had on the field as a coach.”