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The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

Spurs new-boy Berbatov 'turned down United offer'

SOFIA, May 18 (Reuters) - Bulgaria striker Dimitar Berbatov says he turned down an offer from Manchester United to join Tottenham Hotspur after talking to manager Martin Jol.

The 25-year-old, who has agreed a four-year deal with the Premier League club subject to a work permit, is leaving Bayer Leverkusen for a fee of 16 million euros ($20.49 million).

"I can reveal now that I had an offer from Manchester United and everyone knows what it means but after talking to Martin several times I decided to choose Spurs," he said on Thursday.

"We (the player and his agent) went to see Tottenham's match against United last month and afterwards I met Martin. It was our first meeting but I realised that he's a very special man."

"I'm glad I'll have the chance to work with him... many people have told me he is a brilliant manager."

The striker, handed the number nine shirt at White Hart Lane, also told a news conference he is keen to show that he is worth the money Spurs are paying for him.

"I'm looking forward to succeeding at Tottenham, which is a club everyone has spoken highly of," said Berbatov.

"The club made a great effort to sign me and I hope to return that effort playing for them. I've had the chance to see some Spurs matches and I really like their style of play. They are trying to play attractive football."

Berbatov, who has been on top form for Leverkusen in recent seasons and was second-top scorer in the Bundesliga last term, has become the most expensive Bulgarian player.

His national team mate Valeri Bozhinov joined Fiorentina from Lecce last year for a reported 13 million euros.

"I spent five unforgettable years in Leverkusen but I've got no doubts that joining Tottenham is a step ahead in my career," said Berbatov, who is due to link up with Spurs on July 1.

The three-times Bulgarian Footballer of the Year is confident Tottenham will soon be playing in the Champions League despite having to settle for a UEFA Cup place next season.

"I want to play in the Champions League and I'm sure I'll do it as a Spurs player," said Berbatov, who helped Leverkusen to the 2002 final a year after joining the club from CSKA Sofia.

Tottenham missed out on a place in the Champions League qualifying round after being pipped to fourth spot in the Premier League by Arsenal on the last day of the season.

"I watched their final game against West Ham and it was very emotional because I felt like a Spurs fan," said Berbatov, after a Tottenham squad hit by illness lost 2-1 at Upton Park.

Berbatov scored 69 goals in 154 matches in his five-year Bundesliga spell, having missed only two games in the last three seasons. He has also scored 31 goals in 50 full internationals.

He will become the third Bulgarian in the English Premier League, joining Charlton Athletic defender Radostin Kishishev and Portsmouth striker Svetoslav Todorov.