Stiliyan Petrov, the bubbly, battling Bulgarian affectionately known as ‘Stan’, made his Aston Villa debut in a game against West Ham at Upton Park in September 2006. Having been there that day, I remember his impressive debut and it was therefore no surprise that Stan established himself as a fans’ favourite and an amazing ambassador for the club over six seasons.
Last March, the claret and blue community was rocked by the devastating news of Stan’s diagnosis with acute leukaemia.
Since then, we’ve publicly shown our support to our club captain with the applause in the nineteenth minute of each game.
In August, we were all delighted to hear that Stan was in remission.
Today, the Bulgarian announced his retirement from football, issuing a statement that sums up his courage and positivity. His intention to establish a foundation to support others diagnosed with leukaemia is a testament to his character and shows why Villans hold him so dear. Although the news of Stan’s retirement wasn’t entirely unexpected, it’s a sad day for Aston Villa all the same.
On Saturday, we have a chance to show our appreciation in the presence of the man himself – during the match and as he leads the team out for the annual lap of appreciation. With only 1,500 tickets left for Saturday’s game against Chelsea, I’m hoping to see Villa Park packed to the rafters to wish Stan well in his retirement and to reiterate our support as he leaves football to continue his fight against leukaemia. If you haven’t got a ticket already, grab one now and join us in honouring Stan, a great footballer and a true gentleman.
Stan, we salute you.