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Bulgaria coach Hristo Stoichkov admits he was shocked to hear that captain Stilian Petrov was quitting inetrnational football.

“I think we’ll have to let him express his motives,” said Stoichkov at Sofia airport after returning from their Euro 2008 qualifier in Luxembourg.

“He needs to shake free from the tension and think it over.”

“He is a very important figure in our squad, he’s our captain. In fact, he’ll remain our captain while I’m the coach.”

Stoichkov, however, remains hopeful that the 27-year-old Aston Villa midfielder will reassess his decision.

“There’s a lot of time until our next match and I think we don’t have to say anything rashly. It’s possible this was made out of emotion.”

“I have no idea why he made this step but he has always been a tough guy and we’ll have to respect his decision.”

Felllow members of the Bulgarian squad were equally surprised by Petrov’s announcement.

“It was like a bolt from the blue,” added Bulgaria striker Dimitar Berbatov. “He shared his intention with all of us last night after the match and we stayed late trying to persuade him to change his mind.”

“We still hope that he’ll change his decision. We are all very surprised but as you know time heals and we hope he’ll be with us in our next game.”

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