Aston Villa’s Stiliyan Petrov Will Retire After Year-Long Battle With Leukemia

Aston Villa club captain Stiliyan Petrov is set to retire after a year-long battle with Leukemia that kept him off the pitch in 2013. He announced his retirement from the game early Thursday after suffering from acute Leukemia that was found back in March of 2012.

The midfielder was diagnosed after a match against Arsenal at the Emirates last season. He believed he had a cold after feeling exhausted throughout the match but came to find out later that he was in the beginning stages of a battle with cancer.

Petrov will take the pitch one last time with his Aston Villa teammates this Saturday at home against Chelsea. He will not appear in the game, though the club’s captain will lead the team onto the field and also participate in the “appreciation lap” around DW Stadium after it’s over.

Fans have named the contest as “Stiliyan Petrov Day” in honor of their captain who arrived at Aston Villa back in 2006 after a transfer from Celtic. During his time at Villa, Petrov appeared in 218 matches for the club and scored 12 goals during that period.

The 33-year-old Bulgarian addressed his retirement after making the announcement and thanked all of his friends and family for their overwhelming support throughout his career.

“Football has been the other great love of my life, so it is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my retirement from the game,” Petrov said in a statement. “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.”

Aston Villa’s final match against Chelsea is expected to be a celebration of sorts, focusing on Petrov’s career and ability to fight off cancer. Petrov’s acute Leukemia is now in remission but he continues the long fought battle each day.

Though his career was cut short, Stiliyan Petrov lives with no regrets and he will always have a place for Aston Villa in his heart.