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Tottenham's Berbatov was Newcastle mad

Tottenham striker Dimitar Berbatov grew up as a mad Newcastle United fan.

The Bulgaria international grew up worshipping Alan Shearer - and slept in a No 9 Newcastle shirt!

Berba's mum Margarita, 45, a former champion handball player, recalls how the Shearer shirt became her boy's prized possession.

She told The Sun: "Dimitar wore this shirt all the time.

"He even used to sleep in his Newcastle shirt! It's that special to him.

"Dimitar told me it was his dream to play for Newcastle United one day and wear the same shirt as Alan Shearer, who is my son's hero.

"Shearer was a major inspiration for him to work hard for himself and the team. He liked the fact that Alan Shearer scored goals but was not a selfish player.

"Dimitar thinks this shirt may even have been a sign he was meant to play in England."

His old schoolmate Mario Bekov, who has known Berbatov for 20 years, said his admiration for the former Toon ace bordered on obsession.

He said: "Dimitar never missed a Newcastle game when it was on television. And Shearer was up there with Pele as a God for him."

Another pal, Stefan Damianov, recalled how Berbatov considered himself to be an honorary Geordie as he followed the Toon and grew up in a mining region of Blagoevgrad.

He said: "People in this part of Bulgaria like the Newcastle team especially and identify themselves with the football-mad culture of the people there and loyalty to the team."

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Tribal Football Staff

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