Petrov announces his retirement from football

Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov has taken to the club’s official website to confirm his retirement from football with immediate effect.

The Bulgarian, who made his name in the Celtic midfield, moved down to Villa in 2006 to link up with Martin O’Neill.

However, he has been sidelined from first team action since being diagnosed with leukaemia in March 2012.

Last month, he spoke about his new battle for the first time on the club’s TV channel, and this morning, confirmed his retirement from the game.

His statement read: “Football has been (a) 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 with people who 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 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.”

The 33-year-old began his career with Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia before John Barnes brought him to Celtic for £2m in 1999. He won four SPL titles, and was a losing finalist in the 2003 UEFA Cup final. For the Bhoys, Petrov scored 55 league goals in 228 appearances.

The move to Villa saw another nine league strikes. Captain when Martin Laursen retired from football, his last game was a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal last March, just a week before the diagnosis of his illness.

In total, Petrov made 573 senior football appearances, scoring 83 times.

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