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Petrov forced to call time

Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov has announced his retirement following his battle with 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, continues to receive treatment. His popularity 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.

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

He feels the quick action after his diagnosis proved critical in his battle.

Referring to the moment he fell ill, he said: "Then something crazy happened, something I thought was just a cold but turned out to be something more serious."