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Soccer legend Lothar Matthaeus set to take over as Bulgaria coach

Germany's most capped footballer ever, Lothar Matthaeus, has so far had a less glorious coaching career. His next challenge will be to try to salvage Bulgaria's hopes of qualifying for Euro 2012.

Matthaeus fights for the ball wearing his distinctive number 10 Germany shirt.

Matthaeus spent 20 years in the German team

The captain of Germany's World Cup winning 1990 side, Lothar Matthaeus, appears to have landed a new job as coach of the Bulgarian national team.

The Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) announced on Tuesday that Matthaeus' arrival was effectively a done deal.

"Matthaeus will be officially presented in a few days," BFU president Borislav Mihaylov told a news conference, saying that the playing legend had signed a one-year deal with an option for two more years at the helm.

Matthaeus is to replace Stanimir Stoilov, who resigned earlier this month after Bulgaria kicked off their Euro 2012 Qualifying campaign with back-to-back defeats – 0-4 away against England, and then 0-1 at the hands of Montenegro on home soil.

Stanislav Stoilov

His predecessor Stoilov quit in despair after two key defeats

"We asked the Under 21's coach Mihail Madanski and former Bulgarian assistant coach Tsanko Tsvetanov to assist Matthaeus for next month's qualifier against Wales," Mihaylov said, in reference to the Euro 2012 qualifying fixture in Cardiff on October 8.

With no points from two matches and notable competition from World Cup 2010 contenders like England and Switzerland, coached by high-profile German tactician Ottmar Hitzfeld, Matthaeus could have his work cut out for him in Sofia.

Matthaeus yet to shine off the pitch

With seven Bundesliga titles, a World Cup, an Italian Serie A league crown, a European Championship and a string of other domestic titles to his name - not to mention an unmatched 150 appearances for Germany - Matthaeus' soccer playing credentials cannot be questioned. He even successfully made the transition from the center of midfield to the sweeper position later in his career, helping his older legs keep pace with the evolving game.

So far, though, Matthaeus' coaching career hasn't come close to emulating his glory days on the pitch, and it's surely unlikely that the Bulgarian squad now at his disposal could win any international silverware in the near future.

Dimitar Berbatov

Matthaeus may try to woo striker Dimitar Berbatov back from international retirement

Matthaeus' touchline highlight was probably his 2-0 friendly win against Germany as Hungary's coach in 2004, and the only trophy of note on his coaching CV is the 2003 Serbian league championship, which he secured for Partisan Belgrade.

He has also coached Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Atletico Paranaense in Brazil, and Maccabi Netanya in Israel.

Matthaeus left his last post in Israel in April 2009, and had been linked with a number of coaching jobs which he ultimately did not secure, most notably with the Cameroon national team.

Bulgaria have not qualified for a major international tournament since Euro 2004 in Portugal, where they were eliminated in the Group Stages. However, the side did reach the semifinals of the 1994 World Cup in the US, thanks largely to the lethal left of Hristo Stoichkov.

Bulgaria even knocked Germany out of that competition in the quarterfinals, winning 2-1. Matthaeus probably has bittersweet memories of that match in New York against the side he is now to coach - he scored his last World Cup goal for Germany there from the penalty spot, but it proved little more than a consolation.

Author: Mark Hallam (AFP/dpa)
Editor: Susan Houlton

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