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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 23, 2006

Berbatov braced for Leverkusen return

Tottenham striker Dimitar Berbatov admits he will have mixed emotions when he returns to Bayer Leverkusen tonight to face his former club in the UEFA Cup.

The Bulgarian spent more than five years at the BayArena before his £10.9million summer move to White Hart Lane and heads back to Germany looking for the win to put his new side in the last 32 of Europe's second-tier competition.

He came on as substitute for Leverkusen in the 2002 Champions League final when a Zinedine Zidane-inspired Real Madrid pipped his side to Europe's top club prize, and believes a return to Glasgow this season is possible for Martin Jol's men in the current campaign. Hampden Park stages the UEFA Cup final on May 16.

'If I do score it will be strange, but I'm a professional player and it doesn't matter if they are my friends,' he said.

'Like usual, you raise your hands to show you have scored.

'I was happy that I was there and now I have a lot of other things to do, the game tonight and the games in the future with Tottenham.'

He added: 'I'm really happy to be back here but I have a job to do - during the 90 minutes there are no friends.'

The 25-year-old has had a mixed start to his career at Tottenham, saving his best performances for the UEFA Cup, and he believes Jol's side could be contenders for the competition.

'Maybe now it's the first step, I think we have the quality to win the UEFA,' said Berbatov.

Leverkusen boss Michael Skibbe believes Berbatov is among the top strikers in the game and is confident the striker will establish himself in the Premiership.

Skibbe, who is set to be without Marko Babic but is hopeful over the fitness of fellow midfielder Bernd Schneider, said of Berbatov: 'He's one of the best strikers in the world.

'He's got wonderful technique, is very good with his head, both feet are very fast and all the time he has an eye for players in better positions. He's very special.'

Jol is wary of the German side, who like Tottenham have had mixed results in domestic competition.

'They are a very strong team at home and a team of internationals,' the Dutchman said.

'A few players are influential, for example Schneider but he's not 100% certain. He's one of my favourite players in Germany.

'They've got younger players like (Tranquillo) Barnetta and (Stefan) Kiessling, all international players, and they've got the Brazilian Juan.'

Tottenham will be without Jermaine Jenas, who has a calf injury, while boss Jol is waiting on Aaron Lennon's fitness following a knee injury. Pascal Chimbonda is back in the squad.