Paul Lambert considers new role for retiring Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov

Midfielder continues his fight against acute leukaemia

The Aston Villa manager, Paul Lambert, is considering plans to offer Stiliyan Petrov a new role at Villa Park after the club captain confirmed his retirement as he continues his fight against acute leukaemia.

The Bulgarian midfielder, who was diagnosed in March last year and is now in remission, today announced he would not play again.

Tributes poured in for the fans' favourite, with former Celtic team-mate Lambert describing his friend as a "fantastic player" and "a nice guy with a heart of gold".

Petrov's priority will now be his health and work for his leukaemia charity, but Lambert revealed he was already mulling over a role for the popular captain. He said: "I've something in my head I'm thinking about at the minute and it's not a sentimental thing at all. It's just some things my staff and I spoke about."

Petrov will lead Villa on their traditional lap of appreciation after tomorrow's final home game against Chelsea. In a statement released by Villa, 33-year-old Petrov, who signed for Villa from Celtic in 2006, said: "I've only ever got on with my job, while remaining grateful to have great team-mates, great people around me and, most of all, a fantastic family.

"It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my retirement. The emotions are overwhelming, 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. I would also like to thank all of the managers I have worked under and all of the team-mates I have played alongside."

Supporters are planning further tributes at the last game of the season at Wigan.