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Bulgaria defender Ivanov joins Panathinaikos on three-year deal

Bulgaria's Ivan Ivanov (L) heads for the ball with Denmark's Nicklas Bendtner during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match at Vassil Levski stadium in Sofia October 12, 2012. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov/Files
Bulgaria's Ivan Ivanov (L) heads for the ball with Denmark's Nicklas Bendtner during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match at Vassil Levski stadium in Sofia October 12, 2012. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov/Files

SOFIA (Reuters) - Greek club Panathinaikos have signed Bulgaria defender Ivan Ivanov from Lokomotiv Plovdiv on a three-year contract, the player said on Tuesday.

"I'm pleased to join one of the biggest Balkan clubs," the 28-year-old centre back, capped 40 times by Bulgaria, told local media. "I'm quite enthusiastic and I hope to have luck and no injuries."

Ivanov, Bulgaria's footballer of the year in 2013, suffered a series of injuries after joining Basel from Partizan Belgrade in 2013 and played only 18 times.

In December, he was released from the Swiss club by mutual consent and rejoined Lokomotiv three months later in a bid to resurrect his flagging career with the 2004 Bulgarian champions.

Panathinaikos, 20-times Greek champions, will join next season's Europa League in the third qualifying round.

(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov,; Editing by Neville Dalton)

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