'I always wanted to experience club football abroad' - Warren Feeney excited by move to Bulgaria

Warren Feeney
Belfast-born Feeney had spells as a player at Plymouth Argyle, Bournemouth and Luton Town

Warren Feeney has said he is making up for not moving abroad as a player by accepting a manager's job in the Bulgarian second flight.

The former Northern Ireland striker has left Championship club Ards to take over at OFC Pirin Blagoevgrad.

The move came through a former team-mate of Feeney's in England who was helping Blagoevgrad find a new boss.

"One of my biggest regrets is that I never got to move to Europe as a player," he told BBC Sport NI.

"I had an offer to go to Malta towards the end of my playing career but unfortunately it fell through at the last hurdle.

"I know it will be very different to what I have been used to but the culture and the technical nature of European football really appeals to me."

Feeney, 38, who has managed Linfield and been an assistant boss at Notts County, will be unveiled at his new club and meet the players on Monday, with his first game in charge coming on Saturday.

Blagoevgrad was recently taken over by new Dubai-based owners and Feeney said there will be investment in the squad as they aim to achieve promotion to the top flight.

Warren Feeney
Feeney took over at Ards in February but could not save them from relegation to the Championship

They are currently in mid-table with two games to play before a winter break until February.

"I'm hugely excited by the project and the pull of full-time football was massive. The club like what they have seen and heard about me, and to be honest it was a role I couldn't turn down," Feeney continued.

"I'm not scared of the challenge at all. I've a chance to manage a team that is very well respected in Bulgaria, has a good youth system and where Dimitar Berbatov played as a youngster.

"The language is obviously something I'll have to think about, but most of the playing squad speak English so I don't see that being too much of a problem.

"I can't wait to get out there and get started. I will be based there full-time, with my family staying in Northern Ireland. You never know where you'll end up in football and you have to grasp opportunities when they come along."

Feeney's playing career included stints at Leeds United, Bournemouth, Stockport County, Luton, Cardiff City and Plymouth Argyle and he won 46 Northern Ireland caps between 2002 and 2011.