Fabio Capello’s England will start their qualifying campaign for Euro 2012 against Bulgaria on Friday night at Wembley.
This is the third time that the nations have been drawn together in qualifying for the European Championships and the Three Lions will hope that history repeats itself as England have achieved qualification on both previous occasions.
England are unbeaten in those qualifiers, and remain so in all of their previous meetings with Bulgaria, winning four and drawing four from eight matches.
The nations first met at the 1962 World Cup in Rancagua, Chile. In what was the last group game to be played, a 0-0 draw was enough to see England qualify in second place behind unbeaten Hungary. It was Bulgaria’s only point of the competition, in which they were competing in for the very first time.
Six years later and England, as World Champions, hosted Bulgaria in a friendly at Wembley. Once more the match ended in a draw, with World Cup Final hero Geoff Hurst equalising Georgi Asparoukhov’s opener.
Another six years past until 1974 saw the first positive result between the nations with England recording a 1-0 success in Sofia.
Frank Worthington struck the only goal of the game just before half-time which was enough to give Joe Mercer’s side the win, which would be his third in only seven games in charge during his short reign in the summer of 1974.
The qualifiers for the European Championships in 1980 drew the sides to face each other home and away competitively for the first time.
Ron Greenwood’s England triumphed 3-0 in Sofia, with captain Kevin Keegan on the scoresheet, before winning 2-0 at Wembley a few months later with Glenn Hoddle netting on his debut.
England qualified unbeaten with seven wins from eight whilst Bulgaria finished fourth in the five team group.
Almost two decades passed until the sides met again. In 1996 England were under the charge of Terry Veneables and the March friendly was preparation for Euro ’96 which was only months away.
Les Ferdinand’s early strike decided the game and earnt England a fourth consecutive win over their opponents as Robbie Fowler appeared off the bench late in the game for his first appearance for the Three Lions.
The nations didn’t have to wait long until they met again after they were drawn together for the Euro 2000 qualifiers.
Glenn Hoddle’s side had lost their first qualifier to Sweden and the bad start continued as they only managed a 0-0 draw at home to a Bulgarian side captained by Hristo Stoichkov.
Hoddle would manage only one more qualifier the next month before he was removed from his position as England manager after controversial comments made to the press.
The return match took place in June 1999, by which time England where under the stewardship of Kevin Keegan.
However, despite taking an early lead through captain Alan Shearer’s strike, England found themselves almost immediately pegged back as Georgi Markov equalised to earn Bulgaria a share of the spoils again.
England would eventually scrape a second-place finish behind Sweden and ahead of Poland on goal difference as Bulgaria finished fourth, and would narrowly defeat old rivals Scotland in a play-off for their place at Euro 2000.
England’s home record vs. Bulgaria
P4 W2 D2 L0 F4 A1
England’s overall record vs. Bulgaria
P8 W4 D4 L0 F9 A2
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