He is regarded as one of the best footballers of his generation and the greatest Bulgarian footballer of all time. Nicknamed The Dagger (Камата), The Dog (Кучето), The Modern Left (Модерния ляв).
At Barcelona he earned the Spanish nickname 'El Pistolero' which translates to 'the gunslinger'. He was a member of the Bulgaria national team that finished fourth at the 1994 World Cup, of which he was the top scorer with 6 goals.
Apart from his footballing talent, he was notable for his on-pitch temper. His awards include the European Golden Boot, the Ballon d'Or, the World Cup Golden Boot and the World Cup Bronze Ball.
Stoichkov began his career in his hometown, moving to Hebros in 1984. The next year he went to CSKA Sofia. There, he was involved in a fight during the final of the 1985 Bulgarian Cup which resulted in an original lifelong ban, which was eventually reduced to a month suspension.
After he was brought back to football, he managed to win the European Golden Boot with CSKA by scoring 38 goals in 30 games. He then moved on to FC Barcelona, where he was part of Johan Cruyff's 'Dream Team', Stoichkov helped Barcelona to one of the most successful eras of the club, winning the Primera Division four years in a row between 1991 and 1994 and the European Cup after defeating Sampdoria in 1992. During his stay in Barcelona, he had become an idol for the club's fans, and was Barça's most popular player at the time, having earned a place in the supporters' hearts much like Johan Neeskens and Diego Maradona in the past. In Barcelona Stoichkov played in tandem with Romário.
In his first season with the club Stoichkov was suspended for two months for stomping on a referee's foot, but he still netted 14 league goals and six more in the Cup Winners' Cup. Stoichkov then had short spells with Parma, Al-Nassr, and finally finishing his career in Japan with Kashiwa Reysol and the United States with the Chicago Fire and D.C. United.
Stoichkov played as a left winger who was known for his explosive acceleration and speed dribbling, and for taking unpredictable shots on goal. He was also notable at taking free kicks and penalties as well as being among the best crossers in the world at his prime. He gained infamy because of his aggressive temper on the pitch.
He could often be seen arguing with the referee, or with his opponents. In 2006, he was sued by a former American University college student whose leg he broke in a violent tackle during a match against D.C. United in 2003.
The case was settled out of court in 2007 for undisclosed financial terms. The student's coach called Stoichkov's challenge "criminal". Ray Hudson, who coached D.C. United for whom Stoichkov played at the time, called it a "rash tackle". Following an investigation by MLS, Stoichkov was suspended two games and fined $2,000.
Honours at Barcelona
- Copa del Rey: 1