In a tragic but ultimately perhaps predictable ending, Aston Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov, 32, has announced his retirement from football, to concentrate on his fight against the acute leukaemia he has been diagnosed with.
Petrov's medical condition was announced via a club statement on Friday. The midfielder, who is also the captain of the Bulgarian national team, reported having a fever, following the 0-3 defeat to Arsenal last weekend. The leukaemia was detected as a result of subsequent medical tests.
Petrov has made 30 appearances for the club this season, in all competitions. He transferred to Villa Park in 2006, from Scottish side Celtic, and has made a total of 185 league appearances since then.
"Football is over, this is the end. I am now beginning to fight for my life and I will fight. I lost my energy early in the second half [at Arsenal] and it was very unusual for me. But this is life, you see we drank a coffee in London a week ago and now we're talking about things like this. I'll fight, it's clear and I also would like to thank everyone for the support from all around the world," Petrov was quoted as saying an ESPN report.
Meanwhile, Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish has backed his former captain to recover from his illness.
"It's that old perspective cliché, but it's so true, and everybody here is behind Stan and a lot of the guys, everybody, will be shocked by the news. But he's a captain, he's a leader, he's a defiant guy and he's fought many battles on the pitch and I'm sure this is another one he'll win. We certainly think it's in the early stages and Stan will get the best medical attention possible. I spoke to him and he was typical Stan, defiant, but I think obviously he's concerned about how it has affected his loved ones," McLeish was quoted as saying, in another ESPN report.