The media were very interested in me when I arrived in Portugal. It mattered that I had played in the World Cup in Mexico. At the same time Sporting ( Lisbon) bought the Mexican Negrete, who scored against us in the semi-finals and whose goal was chosen as the most beautiful in the World Cup.
Mladenov had a hard start in Portugal. He got sick - had a high fever and had to take a rest for ten days. Besides, Mladenov arrived in the middle of the training process after he had participated in the World Cup.
“All this did not matter for me – tells Stoycho – the fans in Portugal expected from me to be the best from the very beginning, but it did not happen. It was hard for me as my family was not there and I did not spoke the language. I had only two weeks to prepare for the start of the championship, and I played in three friendlies. Soon I realized that the language would be my biggest problem. I had a pen and a notebook with me all the time. I asked for every word – a glass, a fork, a plate. And I wrote. It took me six months to start speaking and writing in Portuguese. I played very bad in the first matches. Nobody paid attention to the fact that I had only two weeks to prepare. Just the opposite – it was as if Belenenses had to be a champion at every price. We started against Academica and we won but I was a mere shadow of myself. After that we played away against Farense. Again – we won and I played bad. Then our coach Henry de Pereux, who was a French, made a meeting of me with the president. I was explained that expectations were very high and that in the first two matches I had not played at my level. They told me that they would cancel my contract and send me back to Bulgaria. I was shocked! It had never happened to me. I was deeply distressed. I was so eager to play there – and, now – they wanted to make me go home. And our third match was against Sporting – a team who Belenenses had not beaten for a long time. Maybe the fear for my future was one of the reasons why I played at my best. I was a central forward – a post that I had not played in. We won 2:0 and I assisted for the two goals. After this match we had three consecutive wins and we were top in the table. From this day I started hearing only good things for me in Portugal . Different media wanted to make interviews with me. The coach fully supported me. We became friends and we hear each other even today. He was an exceptional psychologist. Up to the ninth round we had been top in the table, but Belenenses was a team that never could really compete with the top teams. We finished fourth and we qualified for the Uefa Cup. This was the season that I made a name in Portugal. It is hard for me to admit it, but I am much more appreciated there than in Bulgaria. I made really good friends in Belenenses such as the goalkeeper Jose Martins. He and Georgi Velinov are the goalkeepers that I had admired the most. My other friends were the already dead . Jose Antonio, Gallo, Jame, Subrinho, Cichofarria, Jorje Bajdec …” .
After we won against Sporting the whole team gathered for a lunch in our free day. And Mladenov had an interview at his home at 18 o’clock- a report would be made about his family. Vanyo Kostov was his interpreter. Mladenov sees for the first time what a Portguese lunch means – 8 hours on the table. : I had not seen and had not believed that a man could eat and drink so much– tells Mladenov – Tables are fully covered. Paper covers are put. I was late for the interview. I had a great year. We had remarkable matches against the top teams – Porto, Benfica and Sporting . We beat the three teams. I cannot forget how we played in the cup. In the quarter-finals we met Sporting. We won 1: 0 after I scored and this was the debut for Victor Baya. In the semi-final against Sporting we beat 3:1 and I scored again. We won the cup in the end after a win against Benfica with 2:1. This was the time that I got very close with Jorje Baydec who came from Gremio. He gave a totally different appearance to Belenenses.. Baydec was a central defendant who was 190 cm tall. He was always in the centre of the company. He is of the Brazilians who can respect and appreciate friendship . We are still friends even now, when he is a manager. He is always ready to help me, when I am looking for a football player.”
One of the most remarkable matches of Mladenov is in the UEFA Cup against Barcelona in 1988. In the team of Barcelona at that time were the stars Garry Linecker and Bernd Schuster. “At Nou Camp in the 93-th minute the result was 0:0 but they scored twice after that – explains Stoycho - in Lisbon we beat them 1:0. I took the ball from Schuster and got away from the defense. I was alone in front of the goal keeper but I did not risk to end by myself. I passed the ball to Mapuata who scored . This happened in the first half. Our captain Jose Antonio hit the goal post in the second half. Barcelona were lucky. We played unforgettably against Bayer who were the cup-winners. In Germany we won 1: 0 after I scored. The Belenenses fans are very warm people, it is really easy to communicate with them. At the end of my stay in the team they made me a present – a T-shirt with my photo on it. I have a whole notebook with interviews and photos and pundit comments about me.”
It still his first year when Benfica offers him to move to the Lisbon top-team. But at this time it is hard to change teams, and his three-year contract stops the negotiations in the very beginning.
At the end of the contract Vitoria ( Setubal) wants Mladenov in their team and Belenenses admit that they cannot offer to the 32-year old Mladenov the same conditions and he starts a new Portuguese page in his career. “My stay in Lisbon is a wonderful part of my life – adds Mladenov – all was perfect for me in personal and professional aspects . When I talk with my wife and my children about Lisbon, we are all on the opinion that this was the place where we have lived the best .”