Villa captain calls time on career.
Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov has announced his retirement from the game following his battle with leukaemia, BBC Sport reports.
The 33-year-old was diagnosed with acute leukaemia last year and has undergone extensive chemotherapy ever since. However, news broke earlier this year that the Bulgarian had entered remission and he has been moving from strength to strength ever since.
Manager Paul Lambert kept Petrov as club captain this season despite his absence but now that his contract is expiring he has taken the opportunity to announce his retirement from the game to focus on some ‘new challenges’.
In a statement on the club’s official website he said: “It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my retirement.”
“The emotions are overwhelming, 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, 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.
Petrov joined Villa from Celtic for £6.5 million and has gone on to make 218 appearances in claret & blue, scoring 12 goals.
“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.”
“There is a deep joy in my heart because of what you have shared with me, not only in this past year but over the years I have been in football. I felt privileged. I still do. I always will.”