When Ivan Petkov came off the bench to score and save UEFA Regions' Cup hosts South-East Region AMA of Bulgaria from an opening Group A defeat on Wednesday, his goal not only earned a crucial point with a 1-1 draw against Tuzla Canton AMA in Silven, but also could help him realise his dreams of a professional football career.
The striker is now hoping for a first full-time deal, and success in Europe's premier amateur competition would certainly put him in the shop window - indeed, the likes of Martin Kamburov and Yordan Todorov have played in this tournament in the past and gone on to win senior caps for Bulgaria. "I am hoping to earn a professional contract," Petkov told uefa.com. "I am only 22 and waiting for an offer."
It was an impressive intervention considering Petkov’s participation in this tournament was in doubt. "I did not expect to play as I have had a knee injury for the last two months and have only just recovered to play in our league," said Petkov. "But I was hoping to get my chance. There are 20 players in this squad so I am happy I was on the pitch and happy with a point."
Petkov, who plays not far from Silven in Nova Zagora added that he was proud to be wearing the Bulgaria shirt in this tournament. "I am very happy to be part of the national team, and being there is an honour," he said. "And there was a big regional scouting system before the tournament, 30 players were selected we trained together and then 20 made the squad. It is a big thing for me and everybody who made the list."
South-East Region now are looking for victory this evening against France's Basse-Normandie AMA, a game in which Petkov hopes to start, but the forward is not daunted by the opposition, saying it bears comparison with the Bulgarian regional league in which he plays. "They are at about the same level," he said. "After all this is amateur football and it is the same everywhere."
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