Villyan is an elite professional soccer player.
His outstanding soccer ability may only be outshined by his wonderful character.
November 17, 1993 is one of the most important days in Bulgarian soccer history. On this date the Bulgarian Men’s National soccer team beat the French national team on a last gasp goal to effectively knock France out of the 1994 world cup and gain entrance for themselves. Bulgaria would then go on to earn a fourth-place finish, after having never won a world cup match prior to the 1994 campaign.
“My dad took me to my first professional soccer match. I don’t remember it but I was probably 2 or 3 years old, maybe 4. I think we also went and watched Bulgaria’s national team play against Italy in Bulgaria, I was super young at the time, so I don’t have any memories of it. But he speaks very fondly of it.”
In January 1993, Villyan was born just prior to the most successful stretch of Bulgarian national team soccer in history — it is almost as if Villyan was destined to take that soccer success with him. When asked who inspired him to play soccer his answer is simple, “My dad.” When Villyan and his family moved to the United States in 1998, soccer was the first sport Villyan played. Encouraged by his dad to stick with the sport and work on his craft, Villyan developed into an elite player. He fell in love with soccer through his work and practice.
“[My dad] initiated my interest in soccer then once it grew it was kind of too big to be self-contained.”
Pursuit of Excellence
Just because something may seem destined to happen does not exclude the journey from having challenges, opposition, and difficulties. Albeit, along the journey to excellence there resides a great number of successes, achievements, and joy. Villyan’s top professional goal and priority is to play in the top division of US soccer, the MLS. Throughout his continuing journey to this high level of excellence he has experienced both challenges and great achievements.
In a stroke of irony, Villyan says that the moment he knew he could be a professional soccer player came at the age of 16 when a college coach visited his US academy team. The college coach’s message that day was regarding the small odds of even 2-3 players on Villyan’s team going to to play D-I college soccer, and the even slimmer odds that any of them would ever play soccer professionally. But as Villyan recounts, all he could hear is the voice in his head saying, “Pshhh, what does this guy know? Like are you kidding me? I know I’m going to be a professional. What is he even talking about?”
“From that moment it just kind of clicked. It just clicked that that’s what I wanted to do with my life, and for some reason I believed it beyond a doubt.”
Villyan has taken experiences of doubt or rejection regarding his soccer ability and turned them into positive energy. Every time he was turned down or told he was not good enough, he felt energized and pushed himself to work harder because he truly believed he was. Villyan’s strong belief in himself, paired with the support and belief from his family, enables him to be energized and motivated in the face of what might make others give up and crumble. In his own words, “Anytime I didn’t make a cut, or I didn’t make a tryout, or I didn’t get picked for the team, they all kind of piled up and motivated me to work even harder to prove people wrong.”
Health and Wellness
Another top priority for Villyan is keeping his body healthy, which allows him to play to the best of his ability. His genuine interest in health and taking care of his body also provides a sense of confidence going into games, because he knows that his body will not limit his abilities. Beyond his physical health, Villyan carves out time dedicated to learning and taking care of his mind.
“I love reading self-improvement books. I love reading psychology books. [I am] constantly testing and expanding my mind.”
Nutrition is a large part of Villyan’s regimen. He has a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and recently added Lyvecap to his wellness routine. “I definitely notice I’m less sore after workouts and my sleep consistency is better.”
Coming from an immigrant family Villyan understands the financial strain imposed by extracurricular activities. Villyan hopes to ease this struggle that might prevent kids from playing soccer. He created the Villyan Bijev Passback Foundation in order to provide kids with the tools and resources to achieve their soccer goals. If you wish to join Villyan in his efforts to help kids reach their soccer goals head to the link above.