In August 2006, Petrov linked up with Martin O’Neill once more, as the then-Aston Villa manager signed the Bulgarian for £6.5 million and he signed a new four-year deal with Villa in May 2009.
The Birmingham club released a statement earlier today, it read: “The Villa Board received news today that our long-standing captain Stiliyan Petrov has been diagnosed with acute leukaemia. Stiliyan developed a fever following the Arsenal game last Saturday and subsequently underwent tests conducted by Dr Ian McGuinness.
“Haematology experts confirmed the diagnosis today. 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.”
Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish said that Stiliyan will be in everyone’s thoughts going into tomorrow’s game against Chelsea.
He said: “We think it is in the early stages and Stan will get the best medical attention possible. I spoke to him about half an hour ago and he was typical Stan – defiant. He is concerned, obviously, about how it has affected his loved ones.
“Everybody here is behind Stan and everybody will be pretty shocked by the news. He is the captain, a leader, a defiant guy. He has fought many battles on the pitch before and I’m sure this is one he will win. I’ve not spoken to any of the players. I think one or two who were close to him were aware that he was awaiting news of fuller tests. So the players will be gutted but hopefully galvanised to win this game for their captain tomorrow.”Celtic manager Neil Lennon who played alongside Petrov during his time at Parkhead spoke of his absolute devastation after hearing the news of the Bulgarian’s diagnosis.
Neil 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. Knowing Stiliyan as I do, and the many obstacles he has overcome in his life to get to the peak of his career, he will overcome this one too.
“On behalf of the players and the backroom staff we send our support and best wishes to Stiliyan, Paulina and the family. We are there for them all and they will never walk alone.”
Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell added: “This is terrible news and our support and prayers go to Stiliyan, Paulina and their family at this very difficult time. Stiliyan was an exceptional player for Celtic and helped to bring incredible success here during the seven years he spent at the club.
“He was also one of the most popular players here, not only within the club but with all our supporters and I know that they, too will want to pass on their support and best wishes to Stiliyan and his family.”
Everyone at Scotzine would like to pass on our support and best wishes to Stan and his family. And we hope that he will win this battle, just like he won so many on the field of play and return to the Villa team soon.