Stiliyan Petrov remains Aston Villa captain

 

Stiliyan Petrov will remain as Aston Villa captain as he continues his battle with acute leukaemia, the club have confirmed.

The Bulgaria international missed the finale of last season after being diagnosed with the illness in March and has since been undergoing regular treatment.

Petrov was, however, present at Villa's Bodymoor Heath training complex today to celebrate his 33rd birthday as his team-mates reported back for pre-season training.

After the Villa players greeted the popular skipper with a cake and a rendition of 'Happy Birthday' new boss Paul Lambert confirmed that Petrov would retain the captain's armband.

Lambert, who replaced Alex McLeish at the Villa Park helm this summer, also reiterated his, and the club's, support for Petrov and his young family as he continues treatment.

"The main thing is Stiliyan being okay in his life. Football is a secondary thing and doesn't even come close to it. It's his life and that's the most important thing," Lambert told AVTV.

"I went to see him the day before Arsenal played Norwich and there was a bit of trepidation when I first went in because I didn't know what I would be walking in to. But when I saw him I thought he looked great. His wife was there and I was delighted for him.

"To see him coming back today was great. It will be great too that, God-willing, he will be totally okay.

"That's the most important thing. It is for everyone to see him about the place.

"The support of the fans is vital. Villa fans have done great by him and he'll certainly still need them and their support. There's no doubt about it.

"he is a young guy with a wife and two kids and my main concern is his health. He will need that support."

Petrov joined Villa six years ago as the first signing of the Martin O'Neill era from Celtic.

Villa supporters have undertaken a minute's applause in the 19th minute of every game since Petrov's illness was revealed.

Petrov has worn the number 19 shirt for the midlands club.

PA

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