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Sep 24, 2010

Matthaus planning to lure Berba back to Bulgaria

New Bulgaria coach Lothar Matthaus claims that he will try to tempt Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov back into international football, after he retired in May.

Matthaus, captain of the West Germany side that picked up the World Cup trophy in 1990, was unveiled as successor to Stanimir Stoilov on Thursday and laid out his plans for the future, including the role of former skipper Berbatov.

"I plan to start talks with Berbatov,'' he said. ''He is still welcome in the Bulgarian national team. As a Bulgarian player he should be proud to play for his country."

Laying out his targets, Matthaus also said: "I am going to try to catch up on what has been lost, we want to finish at least second in our (Euro 2012 qualifying) group."

However, the coach may have a tough time in persuading the in-form Berbatov to be part of his plans after the striker retired having becoming "discouraged" by his performances for his country. Matthaus believes Berbatov could provide the springboard for an improvement, but the player himself appears happy with his decision.

''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.''

Indeed, 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.''

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