x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Shock at Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov's leukaemia

The 32-year-old Bulgarian was diagnosed this week and is 'cherished by many and he will get from Villa every ounce of love'

Aston Villa’s captain Stiliyan Petrov  joined the club in 2006.
Aston Villa’s captain Stiliyan Petrov joined the club in 2006.

Stiliyan Petrov, the Aston Villa captain, has been diagnosed with acute leukaemia, the club confirmed in a statement yesterday.

The condition was diagnosed following tests after the Bulgaria international, 32, developed a fever following last Saturday's defeat to Arsenal.

A club statement said: "We expect to learn more about Stiliyan's situation in due course and we have moved quickly to support him and his family.

"During this time we ask that Stiliyan's privacy is placed ahead of all inquiries and trust that we will share information as we receive it.

"Stiliyan is cherished by many and he will get from Villa every ounce of love and support that we have to help bring this to a positive conclusion."

Petrov's former Celtic teammate and current Hoops manager Neil Lennon revealed his "absolute devastation" at the news.

Petrov spent seven years and won four Scottish Premier League titles with the Glasgow club, and were he acquired the nickname Stan.

Lennon tweeted: "Absolutely inconsolable here regarding Stiliyan. He will overcome this like all the other barriers he faced in his life."

In a statement on Celtic's website, Lennon said: "We are all absolutely devastated to hear this news. As a member of the Celtic family, it is important for Stiliyan to know that he has our unequivocal support in battling against this disease."

Petrov was handed the Villa captaincy by the former manager Martin O'Neill, under whom he had previously excelled at Celtic.

The Bulgaria skipper took time to win over the Villa fans upon his arrival in 2006, before establishing himself as a key figure under O'Neill and his successors Gerard Houllier and now McLeish.

Support poured in for Petrov from his Villa teammates on Twitter.

Darren Bent said: "Really sad news to hear about our captain Stan Petrov. hopefully he'll be back fighting fit soon. Thoughts are with him and his family. KTF."

Shay Given tweeted: "In shock about Stiliyan Petrov acute leukaemia but we are all here for him and his family. Please God he makes a full recovery.#prayforstan."

Jonathan Fear of the Vital Villa fans' website said: "There is absolute shock amongst the Villa fans and the outpouring of love and admiration for Stiliyan increases by the minute."

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