Berbatov explains Bulgaria decision

24 September 2010 11:01

New Bulgaria coach Lothar Matthaus is facing an uphill battle to persuade Dimitar Berbatov to return to the international fold.

The Manchester United striker announced his retirement this summer, having achieved his ambition to break the Bulgarian national goalscoring record. However, Matthaus is keen to speak with the 29-year-old after being confirmed as Bulgaria's new coach following their dismal start to their Euro 2012 qualification campaign.

"I promised to myself when I was nearly 30, if I didn't do anything with the national team it would be best to retire and give chances to younger players," Berbatov told MUTV. "I wanted to let them see what it is to have the national team on your shoulder."

A heavy defeat to England at Wembley, followed by a surprise home loss to Montenegro in Sofia earlier this month has left Bulgaria struggling to reach the finals in Poland and Ukraine already.

As Berbatov's words were delivered before Matthaus' appointment, they cannot be taken as a definitive statement.

Yet, having reached the 48-goal mark against Malta last season it is difficult to see what else he can realistically achieve for a country who have not reached the finals of a major competition since Euro 2004.

"I wanted to reach the record before I retired," he said.

"It was a goal I had in front of me but it was difficult.

"I tried not to think about it too much because if you want to score every game, you are going to have a problem.

"When I did break the record it was one of my proudest days."

Source: PA