CSKA-Sofia: Meet the Manager

Lilyana Dimitrova has been appointed manager of CSKA-Sofia, becoming the first female football manager in top-flight football. Dimitrova, 27, replaces Milos Kruscic who resigned less than 24 hours after taking charge.

The appointment has divided football fans across the world, with many wondering whether Dimitrova can make the jump into a male-dominated world and bring success to her new club.

When asked during her first press conference how she would command respect within the dressing room due to being a female manager, Dimitrova was indignant in her reply:

If my father or brother were sat in this seat now, would you be asking them about respect? Women have fought in wars but for some reason nobody expects us to be able to manage a group of men who kick a ball for a living. Football is in my blood. I’ve been surrounded by it my entire life. I’ve done the same courses as many of the other managers in this league. The only difference is I have a pair of breasts.

Lilyana Dimitrova (born 13 March 1991) is a Bulgarian professional football manager, who currently manages CSKA-Sofia. She is the daughter of sports agent Petar Dimitrov.

Dimitrova signed for FC Sportika Blagoevgrad at the age of 16, signalling the start of an underwhelming playing career. Due to persistent knee injuries, she struggled to break into the first team and at the end of the 2008/2009 season was released from the club without ever having played a competitive match.

After being released from Sportika, Petar Dimitrov touted his daughter to clubs in the United States in the hope it would relaunch her career. Dimitrova eventually signed for Philadelphia Independence in 2010 for their inaugural WPS season – she went on to make 23 appearances over 2 seasons but again suffered from several reoccurrences of knee injuries.

When the WPS folded in 2012, and on the advice of doctors, Dimitrova announced her retirement from professional football at the age of 21 and returned to education.

In 2014, Dimitrova relocated to England and attended the University of Chichester for 3 years while studying for a degree in Football Coaching and Performance. Alongside her University course, Dimitrova gained her National B Licence and assisted in coaching the Under 14’s squad at Chichester City FC.

CSKA-Sofia is her first full-time coaching appointment in professional football.

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