Villyan Bijev is an American-Bulgarian professional soccer player who currently plays in the USL Championship for Sacramento Republic FC. Bijev, born in Sofia, Bulgaria, moved to America at the age of 5. Bijev has since played for 6 time Champions League winners, Liverpool FC, among many other teams such as Fortuna Dusseldorf, IK Start, Slavia Sofia, Cherno More, Portland Timbers 2, and now, Sacramento Republic FC. Bijev, a creative midfielder, has loads of talent is very tough to defend against.
The Villyan Bijev Interview
1. You moved to the United States at age five, from Bulgaria. What was your youth career like growing up in the states?
I started playing for my school teams when I was 5 years old. As I got older I started playing club soccer. I always played a year up until I started playing for California Odyssey Development Academy from age 15 to 18.
2. You originally were going to Washington to play college soccer, then you got signed by Liverpool. Tell us how you were scouted by one of the European giants?
While I was in high school over the summers I would go to Europe on trials with the help of an agent I met through one of my coaches. I had a great one week trial at Liverpool and they decided to sign me
3. Describe your emotions after signing for Liverpool?
Once they offered to sign me I walked back to one of the locker rooms they designated for players on trial. I was alone in the locker room and I called my dad who was in California. It was 4am for him at the time. He answered and I told him they offered to sign me and I started screaming with excitement.
4. During your time at Liverpool, you went on a few loans. The first being to Fortuna Düsseldorf, how was your time there?
My time in Germany was hard. I didn’t speak the language and I didn’t know anyone there. I was also on loan so the team I went to didn’t have any investment in me. I learned a lot about professional soccer that I didn’t have access to playing in Fresno, CA at the time.
5. In 2012, you joined Norwegian club, IK Start on loan, what was playing in Norway like? What did it teach you as a player and person?
Norway is a beautiful country. I very much enjoyed my time there. I learned how to be resilient and got a lot of tips on scoring goals with headers. How to position my body and generate power. We did a lot of fitness by running in the forest. I learned that I always had to be first in the fitness.
6. How were you feeling after being released by Liverpool?
I was excited for the next opportunity and challenge I would get.
7. What’s your biggest tip for players looking to make an impression on coaches?
Don’t turn the ball over and always give 100% effort. Coaches can tell when you aren’t really trying and it looks bad.
8. After being released by Liverpool, you were signed by Slavia Sofia of the Bulgrian A Division, what was it like sign with the team in the city you were born in?
It was very exciting. I got to see where I was born and where my family came from. I left at an early age so It was nice to experience the culture in Bulgaria and brush up on speaking Bulgarian.
9. How was your tenure with Slavia Sofia?
Great learning experience. The team wasn’t doing great so it was nice to see the ins and outs of a smaller club compared to the bigger ones I played for prior to salvia.
10. Who’s the best player you’ve ever played against?
11. Once your season with Slavia was over, you stayed in Bulgaria, this time to play with Cherno More Varna. At Cherno More, you helped the team win the Bulgarian Cup by scoring in the final, describe your emotions after scoring in the final for such a prestigious trophy?
It was great to live in another city in my home country. To win the league cup and the super cup were a great accomplishment which I was proud of.
12. After Cherno, you came back to America. What’s the level of play like from the Bulgarian A Division to USL Championship?
The level is similar. The USL is growing every year and the talent is constantly improving. It’s exciting to see.
13. When you came back to America, you played of the Portland Timbers 2, how was your time in Portland?
I had a great experience playing in Portland. The city was beautiful and I hold it in high regard. The club was very professional and they have a great model from their academy all the way up to the first team.
14. The past two seasons you’ve played at Sacramento Republic, describe the fanbase Sacramento has. What’s it like to play in front of them?
Sacramento has the best fan base that I’ve personally experienced. I’ve had the privilege of meeting so many amazing people as well getting heavily involved in community projects that the club has. I have the closest personal relationship to the fans in Sacramento!
15. What’s the biggest misconception about being a professional?
That it’s all physical. There is a mental side to it that many people don’t understand.
16. Who’s your greatest role model?
My father. He’s a hard worker who has sacrificed a lot for our family. Anytime I feel like anything is too tough I think back to everything my dad has accomplished and I press on!
17. What’s your opinion on Sacramento new stadium and move to the MLS?
I think it’s a wonderful move for the league, the club, and the city of Sacramento. I’m excited to see it come to fruition.
18. What’s your biggest piece of advice for youngsters working to become pro?
You have to have a solid resolve as to why you want to be a pro. There will be many obstacles and plenty of chances to give up. You need a reason to keep pushing through all of the adversity that you will face.
19. What are your goals for the future?
My goals for the future are to play in the MLS!
20. Any last words for the readers?
Big thank you to Villyan for the amazing interview! Good luck next season!