Balakov (born March 29, 1966 in Veliko Tarnovo) is a former
Bulgarian football (soccer) player, a key member of the
Bulgarian national team that finished fourth in the 1994 World
On the club level, after starting out with local FC Etar Veliko
Tarnovo, Balakov transferred to Portugal's Sporting Lisbon in
1990, where he won a Portuguese Cup (Season 1994-1995), and then
to Germany's VfB Stuttgart in 1995. He stayed at Stuttgart
before retiring as a player in 2003. At Stuttgart he won two
UEFA Intertoto Cups (2000 and 2002) and a German Cup (1997).
For Bulgaria, Balakov made 92 appearances between 1988 and 2003
(one of the best totals in national history) and scored 16 goals.
Other than the 1994 World Cup, he also played for his country at
Euro 96 and the 1998 World Cup. After Hristo Stoitchkov, he is
considered the greatest Bulgarian footballer of his generation.
Balakov currently manages Swiss Super League side Grasshopper-Club