Teams /  Bulgaria  / Bulgaria 
Bulgaria have 277 Fans
England hat-trick hero Jermain Defoe salutes Wayne Rooney
Dominic Fifield at Wembley - 3 years ago

Jermain Defoe became the first England player to score a hat-trick at the rebuilt national stadium last night and said his rewards were the "sweetest" of his career as Fabio Capello's side sparked their qualification campaign for Euro 2012 in some style.

The Tottenham Hotspur forward had been expected to miss the visit of Bulgaria, together with the more daunting trip to Switzerland on Tuesday, to undergo surgery on a long-standing groin complaint. Yet he passed himself fit to join Capello's squad last week and, combining superbly with Wayne Rooney, duly swelled his international goal tally to 15 in 44 appearances.

"It's difficult to find the words to describe the feeling you get when you score a hat-trick for your country," said Defoe, who became the first England player since Alan Shearer against Luxembourg in 1999 to score three in this arena. "It's just the best feeling in the world. It's the sweetest hat-trick of my career, without doubt ... a special night.

"I thought I'd miss out through the injury but I've put the surgery on hold and might not have to have it at all yet. Over the last few months of last season my groin was a bit sore. I thought it was just fatigue but I felt it in the World Cup and a bit pre-season. You start to worry – I think Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard may have had the same thing [both have since had surgery] – and it felt a bit sore tonight but I've worked really hard in the gym doing a lot of core work to strengthen the area and it felt good.

"It was always my decision whether or not to have the operation but I always want to play and put myself up for selection when I can. I'd spoken to the physios at the club but I told them: 'You have to trust me. I know my own body.' I didn't get any reaction from it tonight."

Defoe did depart three minutes from time having been kicked on an ankle but will be fit for Tuesday's game in Basle. Michael Dawson is expected to miss that match, however, after appearing to damage knee ligaments when falling awkwardly early in the second period on his first start for his country. The Spurs defender was carried from the pitch and will be assessed today once the swelling on the joint begins to recede, with the prognosis not promising.

Capello pointed to Gary Cahill and Matthew Upson as potential replacements next week and reserved praise for his excellent goalkeeper Joe Hart, though he drew most encouragement from the slick teamwork exhibited by Defoe and Wayne Rooney. The Manchester United forward was asked to play in a slightly more withdrawn role by his manager – "just in front of their two central midfielders," said the Italian – and played a part in all four of England's goals.

"When you play with a new partner it can take a bit of time for it to gel but Wayne's a great player to play alongside," added Defoe. "He works so hard for you and, if you make the runs, he will find you. After I scored my second he said: 'Now go and try to get your third.' To have that from someone playing with you is fantastic.

"Everything seemed to click tonight and it was really enjoyable. I spoke to Ian Wright before the game and he said: 'You're due a hat-trick.' He texted me after the game and said: 'I love you JD, well done.' When I was younger I used to study him and watch his movement and finishing and he was at West Ham when I was there as a 16-year-old. We used to practise movement and finishing after training and it has definitely stuck with me. You have to get into positions and work hard. I felt sharp and did that tonight."

Share your thoughts
Sign in to comment

Latest News, Blogs & Podcasts

April 11 – The Bulgarian Football Union, Bulgarian club Slavia and German investment company IFS have signed a preliminary agreement to build a new national stadium in Sofia. The deal between the three parties was finalised this week. The facility will ...
Inside World Football - 2 weeks ago
They also met with the security officer in the Bulgarian Football Union Dimitar Hristov. He had reported the match to UEFA in the first instance after it became clear from betting volumes that there were unusually high stakes for the number of goals to ...
Kire Markoski (#17) celebrates his goal; photo: bgfootball.comThe Macedonian U20 national team celebrated a 1:3 victory in the friendly match against Bulgaria that took place in Blagoevgrad. The U20 national team of Macedonia, or a team that featured ...
UEFA.com - 3 weeks ago
Ludogorets are the new force in Bulgarian football. Champions for the past two seasons having only entered the top flight in 2011, they are on course to complete a hat-trick of domestic titles after beating closest challengers PFC Litex Lovech 3-0 on ...
SBS - 1 week ago
It (racist abuse) happens every week," the 22-year-old was quoted as saying. The Bulgarian Football Union was not immediately available to comment. Silva, who has scored five goals in 25 league matches since joining the seven-times Bulgarian champions ...
The FA - 5 days ago
The 2014 competition will be the last eight-team final tournament before the expansion to a 16-nation event in Bulgaria in 2015. The draw was made by UEFA Youth and Amateur Football Committee chairman Jim Boyce and tournament ambassadors Father ...
Right now, Ljupčo Krstev, 20, from Macedonia and Daniel Milenov, 23, from Bulgaria are riding a bicycle tour of 1,700 kilometres through six Balkan countries. Their goal is to raise ... Ljupčo and Daniel met on a football tournament in 2005. "We talked ...
April 8 - Bulgaria's CSKA Sofia registered their slowest day on the stock exchange yesterday, with the club only managing to sell 3,380 shares of their newly available shares. Having started with high hopes, the sales have dwindled with concerns now ...
I would divide them in 3 tiers, Macedonian, Albanian and then the Bulgarian league. In Albania, the football that is played is more aggressive, physical and the motivation is good among the players regardless of which team is playing. The Bulgarian ...
UEFA.com - 6 days ago
The draw was conducted by tournament ambassadors David Carabott and Fr Hilary Tagliaferro, as well as UEFA Youth and Amateur Football Committee chairman Jim Boyce. Group A: Malta (hosts), England, Netherlands, Turkey Group B: Germany ...

Latest Photo Galleries

Euro 2012 qualifier: England v Bulgaria
3 years ago
We bring you all the action from Wembley as England kick off their Euro 2012 qualification campaign and hope that three points and a good performance will put the memories of their disastrous World Cup to rest
Kick4Life - changing lives through football