October 2, 2018 / 2:07 PM / a month ago

Soccer: Goalkeeper Petkov gets Bulgarian call up at 42

Levski Sofia's goalkeeper Georgi Petkov reacts during his team's Bulgarian League soccer match against Litex Lovech in the town of Lovech, some 150km (93 miles) east of Sofia, March 14, 2010. REUTERS/Oleg Popov

SOFIA (Reuters) - Slavia Sofia’s 42-year-old goalkeeper Georgi Petkov has rejoined the Bulgarian national squad ahead of their UEFA Nations League matches against Cyprus and Norway.

Petkov, who was born in March 1976, last appeared for the Balkan country in a friendly international against Switzerland in February 2009 and has been selected several times since.

Known for his aggressive on-field manner, often arguing with referees and other players, Petkov became the oldest player to appear in the Bulgarian top flight in a game in August.

He marked the occasion with a man-of-the-match performance in a goaless draw against champions Ludogorets.

A month before Petkov had become the second oldest player to appear in the Europa League during Slavia’s game against Croatia’s Hajduk Split, behind former Tottenham Hotspur keeper Brad Friedel, who was 42 years, 10 months and 2 days old when he played against Benfica in 2014.

Bulgaria, who top Group 3 of the UEFA Nations League’s third division with six points from two matches, host Cyprus on Oct. 13 and visit second-placed Norway three days later.

“Of course I’m happy to get back to the national team. I’m ready to play but (coach) Petar Hubchev will decide if this happens. I’m glad that my work is appreciated ... I hope that we’ll beat Cyprus to increase our chances,” Petkov told local media on Tuesday.

It is the inaugural season of the Nations League competition, which aims to replace international friendly matches and is played on soccer’s world governing body FIFA’s international match calendar.

The competition is linked with European Championship qualifying, providing teams with another chance to reach the Euro 2020 finals.

Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Alexander Smith

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