Coming so soon after Fabrice Muamba’s collapse, the world of football was shocked after news spread that Stilian Petrov was suffering from acute Leukaemia. Suffering from a fever after his club Aston Villa had played Arsenal the weekend before last, he was diagnosed with the disease last Friday. Our thoughts go out to him and his family.

Like the Muamba situation before it, football has had to take a backseat to more pressing concerns over health and the rapturous applause that Petrov received in the 19th minute (in reference to his shirt number), from both sets of fans at Villa Park showed the immense appreciation and support that spread beyond the confines of the stadium. Speaking after he’d been diagnosed Petrov said, “I would like to thank all of the people who have left messages of support. The response has been overwhelming and I appreciate it very much”.

…something of a sporting hero…

Affectionately known as Stan, Petrov is viewed as something of a sporting hero back home in Bulgaria but has had his greatest successes on British shores. His time with Celtic resulted in four SPL medals and four Scottish League and Cup medals as well. Unfamiliar with the English language when he transferred to Celtic in 1999, he learnt it while working in a friend’s burger van and it has been this determination that’s been the hallmark of Petrov’s career: a grafter who became a leader on the pitch, excelling at his time in Scotland with his energetic performances in the centre of midfield.

It’s a talent he brought to Aston Villa where he joined up with his former Celtic manager Martin O’ Neill. Bringing composure and no small amount of skill to the centre of the park, Petrov became the ticking heartbeat of an Aston Villa side, weighing in with a few spectacular goals.

…comes out of this difficult time…

We hope that, much like Fabrice Muamba, Petrov comes out of this difficult time stronger and fitter than before, hopefully culminating in seeing him back on the football pitch.

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