Petrov ends silence to urge Berbatov rethink

SOFIA - Bulgaria captain Stilian Petrov broke his four-and-a-half-year media silence on Tuesday to urge striker Dimitar Berbatov to consider returning to the national team because they need their "most talented player."

"I must take the initiative to stand in front of you as captain and express my opinion," said Petrov, whose appearance at a news conference stunned reporters.

"I hope he [Berbatov] will come back because we have many young strikers in the team who will develop if he plays with them... of course, I'm ready to talk to him again."

Former captain Berbatov, the Balkan country's all-time leading scorer with 48 goals, quit the national team last year citing fatigue and family commitments.

The 30-year-old has said several times he has no intention of ending his international exile but local commentators have suggested that having lost his Manchester United starting spot, he may change his mind in an attempt to revive his club career.

"I'll be the happiest man if I see Berbatov wearing the national team's shirt because he's our most talented player," said Petrov, Bulgaria's most capped player with 103 appearances.

"Yes, he [Berbatov] was criticised for his style of play but we just can't afford to deprive the team of our greatest talent.

"Bulgaria need a player like him."

Petrov, the 32-year-old Aston Villa midfielder, quit the national team in 2006 after a row with former coach Hristo Stoichkov only to return five months later.

He had been skipping news conferences and interviews after receiving some strong criticism from local fans and media.

"I have not spoken for quite some time but it's better not to talk about the reasons now," Petrov said.

Bulgaria host Wales on October 11 in a Euro 2012 qualifier although they have already failed to qualify for next year's finals in Poland and Ukraine.