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. They have been powerful pillars of support when I have needed them most over the past year. To my wife, Paulina, and my sons, Kristiyan and Stiliyan, I love you very much and I will always for your constant love and support. Also to my mum and dad, my brother and Paulina’s mum and the people who have been closest to me throughout this time – you know who you are and I love you all. Each and every day I thank God for giving me the opportunity to still be with my 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.

I remember when I was a young player at CSKA Sofia and the good life was all I was interested in. Celtic came in for me and I moved to Glasgow, to another country, to a new world. I didn’t speak the language and I thought it would never happen for me. I knew nobody.

Fortunately, I met people who helped me to turn my life around. I came to know great teammates who showed me the proper way, the way I had to be if I was going to be a serious professional and compete at a high level. I came to appreciate so much the opportunity to work with that level of professional people because it made me something like them. At Celtic Football Club and at Aston Villa Football Club I was privileged to live a life competing at a high level and playing the game I love, supported by the most passionate fans.

Then something crazy happened, something I thought was just a cold but turned out to be something more serious, something life-changing. I played 90 minutes for Villa against Arsenal at The Emirates and I felt fatigued, not myself at all. But I thought it was nothing serious. The diagnosis by Dr Richard Lovell was a complete shock.

Around 7,600 people in the UK are diagnosed each year with leukaemia and about 2,300 people with acute leukaemia. Fortunately, I was able to make decisions very quickly and I started my treatment quickly. I needed to. My leukaemia is now in remission and I have finished my high intensity treatment. From now on I’ll be on the softer treatment, which is two years on tablets. I feel lucky. Not everyone is as lucky as I have been.

For this I need to thank Professor David Linch at University College London Hospital, his PA Teresa Macdonald and all of the nurses and staff at that wonderful institution. Thank you also to Professor Charlie Craddock, Sandeep Nagra and all of the nurses who have looked after me at University Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

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 wish to thank the fans of Aston Villa and the Villa chairman, Randy Lerner, chief executive Paul Faulkner and manager Paul Lambert, also the fans of Celtic, the Bulgarian fans and fans of football all over the world who have helped me through the past year with their incredible displays of support and with their personal, moving messages. I would also like to thank all of the managers I have worked under and all of the team-mates I have played alongside. I loved playing football with all of you and you will always remain in my heart. Also to the agents who represented me, including my current agents Base Soccer. I am moving on and I am excited by this. 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.

– Stiliyan Petrov

 

Everyone at MOMS wishes Stiliyan and his family only the very best in the future. You’ll always be a Villan. #19

Statement courtesy of www.avfc.co.uk

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Stan’s final captain’s program notes:

    What has excited me most about this season is the way this team have grown.
    They have grown as a team and the players have grown as individuals.
    This augurs well for the future of the club.
    The manager brought in some experienced players last summer in Ron
    Vlaar and Karim El Ahmadi but he also brought in young players with a
    fantastic hunger and desire to succeed.
    They have all shown character, courage and great quality and potential.
    Paul Lambert has seen these traits in his players for sure.
    The younger players such as Christian Benteke, Ashley Westwood, Matt
    Lowton and others have grown into men during this season-long journey.
    They have shown a battling spirit and a genuine will to achieve,
    battling through some really hard times and withstanding sometimes
    intense pressure.
    They have managed to handle it all and the present run of form is testament to the resilience and ambition of the squad.
    I was delighted when the manager was appointed in the summer because I knew him as a team-mate at Celtic and as a man.
    I know the deep competitive nature that drives him and I have watched the drama unfold over the course of the past nine months.
    The work ethic and overall ethos is now established and the belief
    that the manager has shown all along is evident in the progression of
    the players and in the fantastic support of the fans.
    There is a very positive mood throughout the club.
    There are many individual moments and performances I could talk about
    but the outstanding feature of this season – certainly since January –
    has been the ‘team’ performances.
    You know this is a team, embodying everything that the word means.
    Over these past few months they haven’t just improved, they have managed to catch the eye of people within football.
    Only last week on Match of the Day, Alan Hansen put forward Paul Lambert for manager of the season.
    Everybody is taking notice, which is great for the club.
    It is great for the chairman also. I know how passionate he is about
    Villa and I know how much he wants to see the club do well and continue
    to grow.
    The seeds have been sown now and there is no doubt that Villa will benefit from the work that has been put in this season.
    The example of senior players such as Gabby Agbonlahor, Brad Guzan
    and Ron Vlaar has encouraged the younger players to work harder and
    become better.
    All of this hard work is beginning to pay off.
    The levels of performance and commitment have always been high.
    As a team, we are learning to defend better and this has helped to improve results.
    I firmly believe that players and fans are all looking forward to
    next season with genuine optimism and that next season Villa will
    experience a lot of joy.
    These are my final notes as captain of this great club, my final notes as a footballer.
    Aston Villa will always remain in my heart.
    I am so grateful for the opportunity I was given here and, to the
    fans, I am so grateful for the way you have supported me over the years,
    most especially during the past 14 months or so when you have stood
    with me and everything I have gone through during the 19th minute.
    This has touched me profoundly. It will be hard to let go but in life everything and everybody must move on.
    To have been part of this for seven years was enough to know that I
    have been part of something unique, something special. Up the Villa!

  2. Hello Stan,
    I just want to say as a Villa fan,thankyou for being our captain.
    And all the best for your future and also your recovery against Leukemia.
    I also hope to see you coaching Villa once you are better.
    Thankyou

  3. Took a bit of time to get going, but then came that moment at Derby. He became our heart and soul from 2008-09 onwards, and I feel proud that he has become such a part of the club.
    Great player, fantastic captain, wonderful man. Wish him all the best in future life, whatever route he takes. He deserves it!

  4. Nice one Stan.  Wishing you all the luck in the world at beating your illness.  A sporting gentleman and a great captain for Villa.  RESPECT #19

  5. Stan you are a true sportsman, professional,a gentleman & family man who deserves the best…. Thank you for all you’be done for AVFC and I hope you have a long happy life…God bless you… #19 xx

  6. Best wishes to the best skipper !! Could of done with you out there today. Take care and good luck in your campaign

  7. Stiliyan
    Thank you for what you have done for the Villa and for what you have done to help other leukaemia sufferers. My very best wishes for a full recovery and a successful future.

  8. Best wishes for the future Stan. An instrumental figure throughout Villa. Forever our leader. You have been sorely missed in the team but football is secondary. All the best, not just from me, but from every single Aston Villa supporter. God Bless. #onestanpetrov.

  9. Our hero, in every sense. Good luck with your charity work. You are in a great position to make such a difference and I hope you continue to touch as many lives in the future as you already have during your footballing career. So sad to see you go, you’ll be truly missed but you’ll always be our #19, and you’ll always be in our hearts at Villa. Much respect, love and thankyou for everything. Hope your future brings a return to the best of health, good luck and happiness. As one of many Villa fans who cant be at the game today I wanted you to know for every face there today there’s thousands more all over the world wishing you well and when you take that final bow we’ll all be as emotional as you are. Xxxxxxxx

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