Stiliyan Petrov to take up academy role with Aston Villa following retirement

Bulgarian will take up position as assistant to development coach Gordon Cowans having retired following battle with acute leukaemia

Aston Villa have confirmed recently retired Stiliyan Petrov will take up a new role as assistant to development coach Gordon Cowans at the club's academy.

The 33-year-old Bulgarian announced his retirement earlier this month having spent over a year out of the first team, battling acute leukaemia.

Petrov is in remission and has been charged with helping Cowans nurture Villa's future talent.

"I'm very excited by this new challenge and I wish to thank the club and the manager, Paul Lambert, for giving me the opportunity to continue my association with Villa, which I have always regarded as a privilege," Petrov said on the club's website.

"I will study for my coaching badges over the coming months and I am looking forward very much to working with Gordon Cowans, someone I know and respect, a true Villa legend.

"My hope is that I can assist Gordon through my own experience in the game and that I can help the young lads to progress, become better players and better human beings. There are important values that we have always stood for at the club and we will continue to do so.

"As I have said several times recently, the club has been amazing with me, from the fans to the chairman, Randy Lerner, the chief executive, Paul Faulkner, the manager and the players, as well as staff at Bodymoor and Villa Park.

"The main thing for me, however, is that it is not for sentimental reasons that I will be taking up this role but because I have something to contribute and I really want to do this.

"The manager allowed me to sit on the bench on Sunday at Wigan so that I could get some perspective from the coaching and management side. I travelled with the team and was able to see close-hand and from a new viewpoint just how the first team prepares for a game and he many elements during a game. I'm looking forward to imparting some of my knowledge and continuing to learn as I grow into the role."

Petrov paid tribute to the fans who, in the 19th minute of every game, showed their support for the former Celtic player.

"Everyone knows the Villa fans have been magnificent all the way with me and, once more, a big and genuine thank you to you all," he said.

"But I want to take this opportunity to thank the Wigan fans also. I was shocked by how incredible the response was from all of the fans when I walked back on the pitch after Sunday's game. Everybody stayed, everybody stood and everybody applauded. It was a very powerful demonstration of how united football can be.

"So thank you to the Wigan fans and thank you to Wigan Football Club for making Sunday even more special for me.

"Finally, thank you to football fans everywhere because I know how fans of so many clubs in many countries have accepted me into their hearts and stood by me during my illness.

"My gratitude will hopefully be evident from what I intend to put back in the game with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my ability."

Villa manager Paul Lambert is delighted Petrov will remain at the club.

"I'm delighted that Stiliyan will be assisting Gordon when the new season gets under way and, as much as he's offered this football club in a distinguished playing career, I know he'll have more still to offer in the years to come through what he will be able to impart to the younger lads," said.

"I had this thought in my head, I spoke to Randy and to Paul about it and we're all really pleased that Stiliyan accepted the role.

"He has a great deal to offer, first and foremost because of the way he is as a guy. He's always been one of the most committed, dedicated and driven individuals and he's always strived to be successful.

"As an international player, too, he's been around the block. He's been the captain at a big club and he's captained his national team, Bulgaria, so his knowledge is of the highest order.

"The scenes on Sunday after our final game of the season at Wigan and the scenes immediately following our final home game against Chelsea served to emphasise how deeply the bond goes between Stiliyan and this club. It was moving and it was a measure of the man.

"His qualities will be put to good, practical use now and he'll have a key role to play for Villa, that's for sure."

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