Boos turned to cheers as Toddy became Pompey great
The Pompey Hall of Fame induction evening takes place on Friday night. We begin the countdown to the evening with a focus on those joining the list of Blues greats. First up, is promotion and Great Escape hero Svetoslav Todorov.
There was little sign Svetoslav Todorov would go on to be a Blues great after an inauspicious start to life at Fratton Park.
Todorov arrived from West Ham for £750,000 in March 2002, with then director of football Harry Redknapp doing the deal.
Manager Graham Rix had little influence on the arrival, leading to boos before he kicked a ball for the club.
Redknapp’s first game in charge for the club then saw the striker known as ‘Toddy’ sent off at Preston.
But, the next season, fans could see why Redknapp placed such stock in the player.
A goal in his first start against Watford marked the start of brilliant return – with 26 goals arriving for the campaign.
And none were more memorable than the one which arrived on the evening of April 15, 2003, at Fratton Park.
Todorov’s goal secured promotion with a 1-0 win against Burnley – a moment which was marked by the Bulgarian iconically diving head-long into the Fratton End.
His two goals then ensured Pompey lifted the Division One title against Rotherham.
A memorable final day at Bradford saw Todorov grab a hat-trick in a 5-0 romp and win his race with Nottingham Forest’s David Johnson for the Golden Boot.
There was heartache around the corner for the 37-year-old from Dobrich, however, as he picked up a serious knee injury on the eve of Pompey’s first Premier League campaign.
That paved the way for a lengthy period of rehabilitation and false hope, as just a single appearance arrived between the Bradford win and August 2005.
Todorov still had a seminal role to play in another memorable chapter in the club’s history, though.
Redknapp returned to the club at the end of 2005 and Pompey were later left eight points adrift of safety.
But six wins and two draws from nine games secured the most memorable of Great Escapes, with Toddy scoring three vital goals.
Those moments are sure to be to the fore on Friday night, on a special night for Todorov.
When interviewed by The News last year, he said: ‘The relationship I have with the fans is special.
‘I can’t explain why I had that relationship with them.
‘But it was unbelievable. You can’t buy that with money.’