Aston Villa's Petrov retires after leukaemia diagnosis

Updated: 31 March 2012 20:16 IST

Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov has said he has retired from football after being diagnosed with acute leukaemia, according to an interview he gave to a Bulgarian newspaper.

Sofia, Bulgaria:

Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov has said he has retired from football after being diagnosed with acute leukaemia, according to an interview he gave to a Bulgarian newspaper.

"No more football, this is the end," the 32-year-old told Bulgarian sports newspaper Tema Sport in a telephone interview.

"I am starting the fight for my life and I will fight."

Petrov's Premier League club Villa announced on Friday that their skipper has been diagnosed with acute cancer of the blood.

The illness was discovered in medical tests carried out on the Bulgarian international after he came down with a fever following last Saturday's defeat at Arsenal, his club said.

"I had totally lost my energy and that was unusual for me," said Petrov.

The Premier League star says he is grateful for all the messages of support he has received since news of his illness broke.

"I want to thank everyone around the world," added Petrov, who is due to start treatment for the illness in a London hospital on Monday.

His compatriot and Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov urged fans to pray for Petrov.

"Let's all pray and believe, that Stiliyan Petrov, one of the best football players Bulgaria have ever produced and one of my best and closest friends, will win this battle. He deserves all your support. BELIEVE," Berbatov wrote on his Facebook page.

Petrov, who joined Villa in 2006 after a seven-year spell at Celtic, was at an emotional Villa Park for Saturday's Premier League game against Chelsea just hours after the report of his retirement emerged.

He saw Villa players wearing 'support Stan' messages on their training kit while warming up for the game.

A message of support was to be relayed over the stadium's public address system five minutes before kick off.

Villa fans were also planning to show their support with an ovation after 19 minutes of the game in honour of Petrov who wears the number 19 shirt.

Petrov started his career as a professional with CSKA Sofia in 1996 and made more than 100 appearances for Bulgaria over a 14 year period.

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