Aston Villa captain Petrov admits he is lucky to be alive

Aston Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov has spoken at public length for the first time about his battle with leukaemia, and admits he is lucky to be alive.

BBC Sport quotes Petrov as saying he is relieved the worst is over with, and he can start concentrating on the rest of his life.

The Bulgarian did an exclusive interview with Villa’s online TV channel, and said: “I’ve had my hard moments but I’ve had good moments as well. I’m lucky because some people with this disease will die very quickly.

I’m glad that this hard year is behind me now and I can concentrate on getting back to my life.

Petrov made over 300 league appearances for Celtic, and represented his country at Euro 2004. The 33-year-old joined Villa under Martin O’Neill’s tenure in 2006, and made 200 league appearances over six years before the illness.

He was diagnosed last March, a week after playing in a 3-0 defeat at Arsenal and recalled his emotions on finding out the shocking news.

Petrov continued: “At the start I thought it was just a cold, nothing serious. When I was told the diagnosis, I was a little shocked but accepted it and just wanted to start the treatment straightaway.

When asked about future plans, he said: “First of all I’m going to spend some time with the family, show them that things are back to normal and feel a bit more comfortable.

I’m hoping to open my foundation soon and I’m going to start raising money and awareness for leukaemia and different charities.

Without his influence on the field, the Midlands club have struggled all season, but three wins and a draw in their last five matches has them three points clear of the relegation zone.

Next up for Paul Lambert’s Villans’ is a tough test away at champions-elect Manchester United on Monday night.

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