LONDON: Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov has been diagnosed with acute leukaemia.
The club said in a statement that the condition was by tests after the Bulgaria international, 32, developed a fever following last Saturday’s defeat to Arsenal.
A club statement said: “We expect to learn more about Stiliyan’s situation in due course and we have moved quickly to support him and his family. During this time we ask that Stiliyan’s privacy is placed ahead of all inquiries and trust that we will share information as we receive it.
“Stiliyan is cherished by many and he will get from Villa every ounce of love and support that we have to help bring this to a positive conclusion.”
Petrov’s former Celtic team-mate and current manager Neil Lennon reacted with “absolute devastation” at the news. Petrov spent seven years and won four Scottish Premier League titles at Parkhead.
Lennon said: “We are all absolutely devastated to hear this news. As a member of the Celtic family, it is important for Stiliyan to know that he has our unequivocal support in battling against this disease.
“Knowing Stiliyan as I do, and the many obstacles he has overcome in his life to get to the peak of his career, he will overcome this one too. On behalf of the players and the backroom staff we send our support and best wishes to Stiliyan, Paulina and the family. We are there for them all and they will never walk alone.”
Petrov – affectionately known as ‘Stan’ – was signed for Celtic by John Barnes. He was handed the Villa captaincy by former manager Martin O’Neill, under whom he had previously excelled at Celtic. The Bulgaria skipper took time to win over the Villa fans upon his arrival in 2006, before establishing himself as a key figure under O’Neill and his successors Gerard Houllier and current boss McLeish.
In 2008-09 Petrov was named players’ player and supporters’ player of the season at Villa Park. He has won more than 100 senior capsfor Bulgaria since making his debut 14 years ago.
** Fabrice Muamba has thanked fans for their support as the first picture of the Bolton midfielder since his on-field collapse against Tottenham appeared on his Twitter feed.
The picture, which shows Muamba smiling in his hospital bed, was posted on the 23-year-old’s behalf on his page on the social networking site. The accompanying message read: “Fab wanted me to post this pic for you all and to also say thank you for such overwhelming support.”
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