Petrov aims for Villa return after leukaemia

Stiliyan Petrov feared he would never play football again following a diagnosis of acute leukaemia in March 2012. But after overcoming the illness and completing an extensive fitness programme, Petrov has said he is ready to play again and will speak to Aston Villa, his former club, ahead of any other club side.

Aston Villa's Stiliyan Petrov was diagnosed with Leukemia.   -  AP

Stiliyan Petrov said on Tuesday he wanted to resume his professional career despite retiring, after being diagnosed with acute leukaemia four years ago. The Bulgarian would like nothing more than to be back playing with former club Aston Villa, even though the Birmingham side has just been relegated from the English Premier League.

The 36-year-old feared he would never play football again following a diagnosis of acute leukaemia in March 2012. But after overcoming the illness and completing an extensive fitness programme, Petrov has said he is ready to play again and will speak to Villa ahead of any other club side.

"I'm looking forward to a return to football again," he told the Birmingham Mail at the launch of his charity golf day, which takes place on May 8. "I've told Aston Villa that I'm ready to start a pre-season with them. Obviously they will always have the first look. I spoke to a lot of doctors and fitness coaches and everybody looked at it and assessed it and I have received very positive news.

Ready to work hard

"I've been working close to the idea for a year and a half and I'm very excited."

Petrov, a former Villa captain who has since worked with the club's Under-21 side in a bid to improve his fitness, added: "I understand the odds will be against me. People will be asking a lot of questions and having a lot of doubts but I always believe [that if] you work hard you will get fitter.

"I've worked hard all my life to be a footballer and it was taken away from me. I've been given a chance again to do it. I'm 36, but players are playing at 38, 39, 40. I've looked after myself well and I think I've got a good shout. Even if it doesn't happen, I've tried."

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