Professional soccer player invests in FC boys team, community
Professional soccer player and Fresno native, Villyan Bijev, has created a name for himself playing soccer for many different professional teams. Some of the few include Liverpool F.C. which is part of the English Premier League in Britain, Fortuna Dusseldorf, which is part of the Second Bundesliga, the professional soccer league in Germany.
Early in his life, Bijev moved from his birthplace of Bulgaria to Fresno, CA, where he has since, with the exception of the travel required in the professional soccer world.
“I remember little from Bulgaria,” Bijev said. “I moved at the age of five and remember a little bit from that time in my life but my earliest memories are from second grade. When I moved here I did not know English at all. I learned English in kindergarten and first grade, but I recollect little about the process it took for me to take on English.”
While Bijev rose to play soccer at the professional level, he began like many soccer players in the U.S. Bijev mentioned that he played for his elementary school soccer team and played like other normal players.
“I started playing soccer at five for my school, which was Sierra Vista Elementary school at the time,” Bijev said. “Later, I started playing for Odyssey at 13 with my friends because they had a good team and they recruited me in a way. At 15 I started to play for the academy which was a step up.”
A lifelong dream fulfilled at the age of 18, Bijev was offered a chance with Liverpool right out of high school. However, due to the lack of a work permit, Bijev was denied the opportunity to play for his first year.
The main club I played for in the valley was Odyssey. Once I signed in Liverpool I immediately went on loan to Fortuna Dusseldorf, the first team I played professionally and it was extremely difficult. I did not speak the language and I had just graduated high school. It was amazing, I realized my childhood dream had come true and I was really happy. — Villyan Bijev
“The main club I played for in the valley was Odyssey,” Bijev said. “Once I signed in Liverpool I immediately went on loan to Fortuna Dusseldorf, the first team I played professionally and it was extremely difficult. I did not speak the language and I had just graduated high school. It was amazing, I realized my childhood dream had come true and I was really happy.”
As a professional soccer player, Bijev moved from Fortuna Dusseldorf to Slavia Sofia and Cherno More, two teams in the Bulgarian soccer league, the First League. He was with both teams for one year but won two championships with Cherno More during his time with them.
“After I moved from Fortuna Dusseldorf,” Bijev said, “I played for Slavia Sofia and had an average season. After I played for that team for a season I moved to PFC Cherno More Varna and received a turn of luck. The team played well and we won the Bulgarian league cup and the Bulgarian super cup.”
After Bijev played for two years under the Bulgarian professional soccer league, First Professional Football League, Bijev transferred to the USL, the second division below the MLS. Bijev transferred to the Portland Timbers 2, the second team.
“I wanted to be closer to home,” Bijev said. “I really like the culture in America. Since I grew up here the references and conversations I could have with people were a lot easier for me. Soccer in America is up and coming and that was definitely something I wanted to be part of.”
Many players in professional soccer love to share their gifts and help younger soccer players become better and thrive in their sport. Bijev is not an exception a he has proven his love for the game.
“I helped with many camps in Portland,” Bijev said. “I really loved it. It was especially fun when I got to come back to Fresno during the offseason and help out a local program called HPA. I am really excited to see where HPA will go in the future.”
Playing professional soccer provides players with many fond memories of getting signed and winning their achievements while playing for certain teams.
“My favorite moment of my professional soccer career so far definitely took place when Liverpool official gave me the offer to play for them,” Bijev said. “I remember being ecstatic and calling my dad and telling him the great news. My most memorable goal, however, was when I was 17 still playing academy soccer. I scored the game-winning goal against Chivas USA when we played them at Keith Tice Park. I scored it with my left foot and it went top corner. It is probably my favorite goal I scored.”
All people love to do fun things in their spare time. Bijev, like many young people of today’s day and age, loves video games. Bijev also likes to play Yu-Gi-Oh and watch Anime.
Look for a January Feather update for Bijev’s appearance on campus .
For more profiles, check out Profile: Jenna Bynum looks to pursue soccer after high school. For more articles, read COLUMN: Journalist explores college options in SoCal.
This author can be reached via email: Andrew Rieker.Follow The Feather via Twitter @thefeather, Instagram @thefeatheronline and Facebook @thefeatheronline.
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