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Dimitar Berbatov was dropped by Sir Alex Ferguson for Manchester United’s Champions League final defeat to Barcelona (Picture: Getty)

Dimitar Berbatov has lifted the lid on a ‘painful’ conversation he had with Sir Alex Ferguson after he was left out of Manchester United’s first-team squad for their Champions League final defeat at the hands of Barcelona back in 2011.

The Bulgarian had scored 21 goals in all competitions across the campaign but failed to find the net in Europe and Ferguson was left with a selection dilemma ahead of the Wembley spectacle, considering United’s embarrassment of riches in attack.

Berbatov was confident of at least making the bench after starting as a lone striker for United in their comprehensive semi-final second leg victory over Schalke at Old Trafford earlier that month.

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Messi inspired Barcelona to glory with a mesmeric performance at Wembley (Picture: Getty)

However, Ferguson opted to start Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez up front against Barca as Lionel Messi inspired the Catalan giants to their fourth European Cup in a repeat of the 2009 final.

Michael Owen was named among the substitutes and Berbatov, who missed out altogether, has revealed his ‘surprise’ and disappointment after Ferguson informed him that he had been dropped.

‘It was just before the game, he called me and said “Berbs, it’s killing me, but I need to leave you out”,’ Berbatov told talkSPORT.

‘So it was like that and it was painful to hear that because I was a goalscorer of the team and of the Premier League.

‘I was surprised because I felt so confident if I can shoot from somewhere, it’s going to go in.

‘So that was a surprise for me, but in the end it was like that.’

Back in 2017, Ferguson called for UEFA to allow more substitutes in finals, using Berbatov’s disappointment that night to illustrate his point.

‘At Wembley, I dropped Dimitar Berbatov and he took it badly,’ the iconic Scot told MUTV.

‘He didn’t deserve it. No player deserves to be left out of the final. 

‘That’s why we try hard at these European seminars with the coaches to try to get 11 subs in the final.’

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