By Chris Wright
Sad but inevitable news is just reaching us in that Aston Villa’s club captain Stiliyan Petrov has announced his retirement from the game as he continues to fight against leukaemia.
Petrov, who hasn’t played for Villa since originally being diagnosed with the disease back in March 2012, signed off with a truly tear-jerking statement on the club’s official website – here’s a few excerpts:
“I’ve never been a person for making grand statements. I’ve only ever got on with my job, while remaining grateful to have great team-mates, great people around me and, most of all, a fantastic family.
“Football has been the other great love of my life, so it is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my retirement from the game. The emotions are overwhelming really, but the continued support of family, friends and the great people I have come to know will make it easier for me to move on from the only life I’ve ever known.
“That I am ready to embrace new challenges will make this process much easier. Since being diagnosed with acute leukaemia in March 2012, I have come to understand and appreciate the way in which this disease impacts the lives of so many people.
“I can help and I want to help and, in setting up a foundation to help address the issues involved when people are diagnosed with this illness, I hope to make a difference. This will be my new challenge, one I will face with all the enthusiasm, energy and drive with which I have faced every single challenge.
“For the life I’ve lived in football, I will always be incredibly grateful. For the opportunity this crazy thing that happened in my life has given me, I also feel grateful in a strange kind of way. This crazy thing, somehow, has touched people and I want to try to channel this in a positive way. This will be the greatest challenge of my life.
“I felt privileged. I still do. I always will.”
The emotional statement is available in full here. We suggest you have a read. You may just find some dust gets in your eye before the end.
As a mark of their love and support, Villa fans are planning to make their final game of the season against Wigan at Villa Park “Stiliyan Petrov day”, wearing Villa, Celtic and Bulgaria shirts as a tribute to their captain, as well as unveiling a huge ‘Petrov 19’ banner and filling the 19th minute of the game with applause as they have done at every game since Petrov was taken ill.
Best of luck Stan, get well soon.