Stoichkov: Why I quit Bulgaria for Celta job

April 11, 2007

MADRID, April 11 (Reuters) - Hristo Stoichkov said on Wednesday he quit his position as Bulgaria coach and moved to Spanish strugglers Celta Vigo in order to develop his career.

'I am still a young coach and I felt I could waste a lot of time as national team coach when I could be learning things which would help me improve,' Stoichkov, who has signed until the end of next season, said at his presentation in Vigo.

'It was a difficult decision to leave the Bulgarian team but I thought long and hard about it and liked this challenge.

'I spoke to people close to me and decided it was better for me to be closer to Spanish football, and to the players with training every day, so that I could improve.'

The former Barcelona striker had received heavy criticism from media and fans as Bulgaria coach after some disappointing recent displays.

He left them third in Euro 2008 qualifying Group G with nine points from five matches, five points behind leaders the Netherlands who have played a game more.

Stoichkov replaces Fernando Vazquez, who was sacked on Monday, with Celta in the bottom three after a 4-2 away defeat to Recreativo Huelva last weekend.

'It's a great challenge. This team has quality and I have to convince them to give their all in the (nine) remaining games this season,' he added.

'They have competed in the UEFA Cup and performed well in the Primera Liga in the past. It is on the training pitch where they have to work hard because the games are easy. The 90 minutes pass in a flash.

'We have to forget about what's happened and start afresh.'

Stoichkov's first game in charge is a Galician derby at home to Deportivo Coruna on Sunday, and he appealed for the fans to get behind the team.

The Celta fans had an uneasy relationship with Vazquez and certain players, not helped by the fact the club have the worst home record in the league with one win in 14 games.

'I'm not thinking about it being a derby. It is just another game and a chance for three points,' Stoichkov said.

'I hope the stadium is full, and that the fans get behind every single player from the warm up until the final whistle because they are going to give their best.'