Soccer-Basel defender Ivanov named Bulgarian player of the year

SOFIA, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Basel centre back Ivan Ivanov has been named Bulgaria's footballer of the year, first defender to win the annual poll of sports journalists since Trifon Ivanov's win in 1996.

The 25-year-old, capped 40 times by Bulgaria, helped Partizan Belgrade win the Serbian league title last season before joining Swiss champions Basel in August.

"I am extremely excited, flattered and happy," Ivanov, who has also played for CSKA Sofia, told reporters. "This is an assessment of my work over the last two or three years."

Bulgaria captain Ivelin Popov, who inspired Russia's Kuban Krasnodar to their first-ever European competition appearance, was second in the vote while Bulgarian champions Ludogorets' midfielder Svetoslav Dyakov came third.

Ludogorets' Stoycho Stoev won the coach's award after guiding the team to the Europa League's knockout stages after topping Group B. (Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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