Lucio tips Berba for gong

Berbatov is making his mark on and off the pitch

Lucio: Berbatov ready to rule Europe

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Dimitar Berbatov could end the season as European Footballer of the Year.

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That is the verdict of Brazil captain Lucio, his former Bayer Leverkusen team-mate who is now at Inter Milan.

Berbatov claimed an exquisite hat-trick against Liverpool last weekend and now looks fully adjusted to life at Manchester United.

And now that he is comfortable in his habitat, Lucio insists the British record £30.75million signing will show he as good as anyone on the continent.

Gifted

"I've played with Kaka, Ronaldinho, Wesley Sneijder - and Berbatov is naturally as gifted as any of them," he told the Daily Star Sunday.

"It took him time to adjust at Manchester United but once he did, I was always confident he would hit this sort of form.

"I think we have just started to see the best from him. He is now entering his peak years and I am sure he will get better and better with every game this season."

Should the Bulgarian scoop the award, he would be the first from that country since 1994, when Hristo Stoichkov won it and the fifth player in United's history.

Despite his ocean of wealth, Berbatov has a strong sense of civic duty to improve the lives of orphans back in his native land.

Poverty

"People are aware of the great poverty that players grow up with in South America and Africa," Lucio added.

"But people seem to forget there are poor parts of Europe where people don't have anything.

"Every summer he goes back home and sleeps on his mother's couch back in Bulgaria.

"The most important thing to him even more than football is the work he does with orphans back in Bulgaria.

"He has said to me he can't believe there are still children growing up there who don't have anything on their feet.

"His goal is to make sure every homeless orphan in Bulgaria is clothed and fed. He will do it. He really is one in a million."