independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Petrov announces retirement

Stiliyan Petrov was diagnosed with acute leukaemia in March last year

Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov has announced his retirement from football following his battle against acute leukaemia.

The Bulgarian midfielder was diagnosed with the condition in March last year and is now in remission.

In a statement released by Aston Villa, the 33-year said: "It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my retirement from the game."

Petrov, who joined Villa from Celtic in 2006, is continuing to receive treatment. His popularity at the club has been evident all season with fans applauding throughout the 19th minute of games - in reference to his squad number - in tribute.

He said: "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."

Villa have announced that Petrov will lead out the team's traditional lap of appreciation after their final home game of the season against Chelsea on Saturday.

Petrov now intends to set up a foundation to raise money to address issues around the diagnosis of leukaemia.

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