Introducing Fulham's unlikely goalscorer Nikolay Bodurov

Fulham Turnstiles

Saturday's surprise 2-0 win over table-topping Derby County saw a first goal for the club from the Bulgarian defender, and here is a bit more about him.

Nikolay Bodurov latched onto a loose ball when Bryan Ruiz's shot was blocked in the 31st minute and inventively stabbed the ball over goalkeeper Lee Grant to give Fulham a deserved lead, which they never looked like giving up. On the stroke of half-time Ross McCormack fed Cauley Woodrow to double the home side's advantage but it was the first goalscorer that many fans were talking about after the game.

The Bulgarian international has been a permanent fixture in the Fulham defence in what has been a difficult first season in the Sky Bet Championship for the London club. He arrived at Craven Cottage on a permanent deal in August 2014 as the club's ninth signing of a busy summer, and capable of playing at both centre half and right back, the 28-year-old has added three more international appearances to his CV this season to make a current total of 27 caps.   

Fulham captured Bodurov's signature having agreed an undisclosed fee with Litex Lovech of Bulgaria, with whom he made over 250 appearances. Bodurov started his career at hometown club Pirin Blagoevgrad, before joining Litex Lovech in 2009.  

Although this season has been something of a rude awakening to English football for Bodurov, on the international stage the dependable defender has taken many plaudits. Against Azerbaijan in September 2014, Bodurov captained his country for the first time in the absence of regular captain Ivelin Popov. The following month Bodurov scored his first goal for his country, away at Norway, albeit a consolation goal in a 2-1 defeat.

Back in the Championship, Fulham manager Kit Symons will be hoping Bodurov's form will help finally lift Fulham away from the relegation zone they have hovered around all season. Bodurov's goal was priceless in breaking the deadlock, but he more than played his part in defence too, where a rearguard action held up a faltering Derby attack.

Symons spoke to the Guardian: “It means a lot to us,” he said of the win and the clean sheet “the majority of our defending this season has been very good but isolated incidents have cost us. It will give everyone a lot of confidence. Teams who sit off Derby get put to the sword, so we knew we had to press them and harry them high up the pitch.”

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