When in a devilish mood, I mess with the spammers. (I’m easily amused.) As someone with an e-mail address attached to a major media outlet, I receive a wealth of junk from around the cyber-polluted planet. The other day one arrived concerning CIA missions or secret funds tucked away in Iraq or the latest conspiracy against Ron Paul. So I responded with a nonsensical retort.

“Hristo wants his money. Last warning.”


I never expect an answer when I embark on these childish capers. Most of the solicitations are automated or generated from a form letter. I do hope, though, that on occasion, my absurd message prompts a shadowy scammer to scratch his head in confusion. You wasted my time for a moment? I’ll waste yours.


This time, to my surprise, I received a terse reply:

“El Pistolero.”

Yes, even the spammers know Hristo Stoitchkov. We had found common ground.

So happy New Year to the former Bulgaria/Barcelona/MLS gunslinger, and Happy New Year to everyone who has frequented the Insider for news, analysis, videos, polls, random Stoitchkov references and other football fun over almost five years.

The opening whistle has sounded, another wondrous year in soccer awaits.