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Warren Feeney: Only a ‘really special’ offer will force me to leave Bulgaria after Pirin promotion


Warren Feeney

Warren Feeney

Warren Feeney

Warren Feeney

Warren Feeney

Warren Feeney


Warren Feeney

Warren Feeney says only a “special offer” would entice him back to management in the UK.

The former Northern Ireland international has just returned home to Belfast following a hugely successful season in Bulgarian football where he led FC Pirin Blagoevgrad to the Second Division title and promotion to the top flight.

Feeney’s stock has suddenly risen but the former Linfield, Newport and Ards manager is in no rush to cash in.

He is determined to make Pirin a genuine force in Bulgarian football and believes the project he has started in Blagoevgrad is worth finishing.

“I have a great relationship with the Chairman and he just bought me a brand new car for winning the League and promotion,” says Feeney. “He told me there is likely going to be interest because of what I have achieved and agents have and will be in touch.

“But unless it’s something really special I’m not interested and would turn anything down flat.

“I’m building something at Pirin, I want to see the club grow under my management and I’m going into a great League with some fantastic teams.

“Some of the budgets are €20-25m and there are teams like CSKA Sofia and Ludogorets who are regulars on the European stage.

“My focus is all about challenging these teams, doing the best I can for Pirin and I can’t wait to test myself.”

Feeney arrived in Blagoevgrad just over 20 months ago and the local fans were sceptical of his arrival.

But after the 40-year-old transformed the team, they have taken the east Belfast native to their hearts.

Last week, ahead of the final game of the season at home against Strumska Slava – incidentally the team Feeney faced in his debut match 20 months ago - Pirin fans brought along a Northern Ireland flag to honour their manager.

“It was a really nice touch – a lovely thing to do by the fans,” admits Feeney.

“The match was a sell-out, in fact our last two games were, and there was a brilliant atmosphere.

““It was an emotional experience because of what we have built up at the club over the last 18 months.

“We won 2-0 to finish the season, I gave two 17-year-olds their debut, and then it was time to celebrate. The players and everyone associated with the club deserved it.”

Feeney, even though he is enjoying some precious family time in Belfast, is already planning for next season in Bulgaria’s First Division.

The season starts on July 17, due to the Bulgarians having a long winter break, and therefore Pirin’s pre-season begins on June 10.

“I’ve already signed two players this week and a third could be on the way. It’s all about adding strength to our squad,” stresses Feeney.

“Ideally I want a squad of 16 or 17 men with a few kids thrown in as well.

“We’re going to be playing against the big hitters of Bulgarian football and so preparation is key.

“I’ll return back to Bulgaria on June 6, pre-season will start four days later and then the season gets going on July 17.

“We’re moving up a level and I’m confident we will be ready for the test.”

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