Bulgaria coach Hristo Stoichkov has expressed his surprise at captain Stilian Petrov’s decision to quit international football.
The 27-year-old midfielder had announced his decision on Thursday, saying he did not want to play under Stoichkov.
“I respect his opinion,” Stoichkov said in a statement. “It’s his right to decide his destiny.
“I don’t know anything about his motives but I’m really surprised that he didn’t say anything to me over the last two years. He’s captain of the team, he had never complained about anything and suddenly he announced it.
“He told me something in Luxembourg, but it was nothing concrete. It was only rumours and speculations.”
Petrov became the third Bulgaria player after goalkeeper Zdravko Zdravkov and defender Ilian Stoyanov to quit the international scene since Stoichkov became national coach in 2004.
“Such things happen in football…and unfortunately it’s our turn now,” he said.
Petrov had earlier explained that he did not want to work under Stoichkov.
“I promised that I would announce officially my decision to leave the National team on Saturday, but I thought that the topic would be speculated with too much until then and I decided I should do this now,” he told the Bulgarian Focus news agency.
“I am aware of the fact that news is unexpected by the Bulgarian football community, but it is not a result of an emotion. On the contrary – I have considered my decision. And my decision is that I don’t want to play for Bulgaria’s national football team under the management of Hristo Stoichkov.
“My decision is a result of many events that accumulated during the period when Stoichkov was leading the team.”