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Villa skipper Petrov reflects on leukaemia battle

Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov has completed his first year of treatment for leukaemia. "I've had my hard moments but I've had good moments as well," he said. "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."

The 33 year old, who joined Villa in 2006 having spent seven years with Celtic, was back at Villa's Bodymoor Heath training ground this week.

Recalling his emotions when he first learned of his condition, he told Aston Villa's website: "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 straight away."

The Bulgarian is now in remission following an intensive chemotherapy programme.

"I have finished all of the high intensity treatment and from now on I'll be on the softer treatment, which is two years on tablets," he said. "It was a very, very long year but now, after all this treatment, I can go back to a normal life.

"The support from all the fans, the club, the players, has been amazing."

That support extends to the Villa fans applauding Petrov in the 19th minute of every match, in recognition of the midfielder's squad number at the club.

"The 19th minute has been just incredible," he said. "It's them showing their appreciation and their support.

"I don't know how I can thank the fans because it's been incredible. Sometimes I joke with friends when they text me saying, 'You've still got that applause in the 19th minute, when are they going to stop?!'"

Asked about his plans for the future he added: "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. The kids especially have really missed me a lot and they're happy that I'm home.

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

About the author

Dave Williams

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