Dimitar Berbatov is not a man given to verbal communication. "He was so shy, I spoke three sentences to him in five years. But he was superb, one of the best players I ever played with. With his potential, he could have been one of the best players in the world," remembers his former Bayer Leverkusen teammate Hans-Jorg Butt. Berbatov, then 21, reached the Champions League final with the German side in 2002.
In 2009 and 2011, he reached the final again with Manchester United only to lose to Barcelona. But on Wednesday, Berbatov was obliged to speak to a television journalist on behalf of his current club, Monaco, after playing a starring, scoring role in his side's 3-1 win at Arsenal.
"How did you manage to make Arsenal look so ordinary and you look so good tonight?" asked the presenter on the pitch as the Monaco fans celebrated.
"Because we are good," replied the Bulgarian.
Against Arsenal, Berbatov's skills (including his exquisite first touch) were on fine display. "Berba sees the art and beauty of bringing a ball down from 30 yards, then flicking it through with a back-heel. It's an artistic approach," said his first team coach at United, Rene Meulensteen.
Simple, accurate, brilliant. Manchester United fans were left to reminisce. Watching Berbatov on Wednesday, some United fans may have wondered what might have been, but can't the same be said of every former player?
Here is a reminder of Berbatov's brilliance.
May 7 2007
A stunning solo goal helped relegate Charlton as Tottenham Hotspur won 2-0 at the Valley. Latching on to Ledley King's pass, Berbatov spun away from Talal El Karkouri on the left wing then held off the Charlton defender before striding into the box and dispatching an angled shot beyond Scott Carson.
Dec 29 2007
Berbatov led the way in a White Hart Lane goal feast, scoring four times in Tottenham's 6-4 beating of Reading. Three of his goals were timed in the 63rd, 73rd and 83rd minutes.
Sept 19 2010
A spectacular overhead kick highlighted a magnificent hat-trick that brought Manchester United a 3-2 win over Liverpool at Old Trafford. Nani's cross fell behind the Bulgarian, but he brought the ball under control and swept an overhead kick past Pepe Reina via the underside of the bar.
Nov 27 2010
Berbatov ended an 11-match goal drought in stunning style, hitting five as Manchester United demolished Blackburn 7-1. The pick of the bunch? The brilliant overhead kick he executed for his second.
April 20 2014
Hailed as his best goal since arriving in France, Berbatov settled Monaco's home derby with Nice last April, using the outside of his right foot to lift an exquisite lob into the far corner of the net.
Source: Associate Press, The Telegraph, The Guardian, Fox Sports, YouTube