Villyan is an elite professional soccer player. His outstanding soccer ability may only be outshined by his wonderful character.
While his name strikes a close resemblance to the word villain, Villyan is anything but. Villyan is one of the good guys and seeking to be a hero to many. Villyan’s story starts as a young boy born in Bulgaria and is currently unfolding in a place of great importance to him, Northern California. As our first LYVECAP athlete feature, we discover Villyan’s hopes, dreams, thoughts, and more.
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.
“I remember 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. Born just prior to the most successful stretch of Bulgarian national team soccer ever it is almost as if Villyan was destined to take that soccer success with him. Villyan’s first experience with soccer came thanks to his father. When asked who inspired him to play soccer his answer was 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. Villyan fell in love with soccer through his work and practice, saying, “[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 in regard to 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 parents and brother, especially his dad, enables him to be energized and motivated in the face of what might make others give up and crumble. In his own words VIllyan says, “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.”
Villyan has always had his eyes set on doing big things in both his professional soccer career and personal life.
Things of Value
Soccer is certainly among the most important things in Villyan’s life yet he knows that there is more to life than soccer. He is committed to his family and friends, taking care of his health and wellness, and giving back to uplift the lives of those in need.
Family and Friends
Villyan counts himself lucky to have had a great group of friends growing up. He characterizes his elementary, middle, and high school experiences as amazing. He went on to say that he absolutely loved his childhood. If this does not give you a sense of the grateful and cheerful nature of Villyan, just keep reading and if it does then you definitely want to keep reading.
Post high school graduation, Villyan traveled to Europe to pursue his professional soccer career. On his own for the first time, Villyan’s first stop was in Germany, a new place with a native language that he did not speak. Not being able to speak German made socializing difficult, so Villyan would make time to skype his friends just to stay in touch and see how they were doing. He is grateful for the modern technology that enabled him to strengthen and maintain his valuable relationships with friends.
Here Villyan shares his great sense of humor, cheerful demeanor, and infectious smile.
In regard to Villyan’s time in Europe he said that his family always came to visit no matter where he was. While in college, Villyan’s brother would fly out to spend time with Villyan every spring break no matter where Villyan was in the world. A strong family bond and support has been a point of gratitude for Villyan.
“I‘ve always been someone who has held personal relationships in high regard and they’ve always been important to me. If something’s important to you I truly believe you make time for it.”
Furthermore, Villyan uses the support and love his family has for him as a means of relaxation in the face of a big match or crucial situation. “I know that for me what they think of me is the most important thing in my life. I know that they are proud of me and that they love me. So when I can mentally process that then I realize that everything else fades away.” Villyan says. This assurance of continued support from those he loves helps Villyan play with a clear mind, unafraid of losing his family and friends over a poor performance or failure.
Health and Wellness
Another top priority for Villyan is keeping his body as healthy as possible so he can play as long as possible. His genuine interest in health and taking care of his body also provides a sense of confidence going into games knowing that his body will not limit his abilities. Beyond his physical body, Villyan carves out time dedicated to learning and taking care of his mind.
Nutrition is a large part of Villyan’s game plan to keep his body in top shape. He chooses food, fruits, and vegetables that can help manage the natural inflammation that comes with strenuous training and the exceptional physical toll that results from high level soccer competition. Using LYVECAP STRONG is the among the most recent additions to his arsenal for staying healthy and well so his body can perform. Among the benefits from STRONG, Villyan stated, “[I] definitely notice I’m less sore after workouts and my sleep consistency is better.” True to form Villyan is excited to understand the effect of STRONG on a cellular level and what exactly is happening in his gut to help him feel better.
“I want to stop playing soccer when I decide to, not because of an injury or my body can no longer take the strain.”
Since Villyan turned pro right out of high school he did not attend college. But, he has a constant desire to learn. Every semester he takes one or two online classes that interest him through a community college in Fresno, CA. He has taken a nutrition class and a biology class which have helped him learn about the human body. He takes the knowledge from these courses and tailors it to his situation seeing what will benefit him most given his own body type and sport.
“I love reading self-improvement books. I love reading psychology books. Constantly testing and expanding my mind. I really enjoy meditating and trying to quiet my mind and control my mind to a certain extent.”
Coming from an immigrant family Villyan understands the financial strain imposed by extracurricular activities. Villyan seeks to eliminate the financial strain that might prevent kids from playing soccer. He started 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 vbpassback.com)
Professional soccer player Villyan Bijev is the focus of our first ever LYVECAP athlete feature. Villyan is much more than just a phenomenal soccer player; he is a lifelong learner, a good friend, brother, and son, and a charitable human being.