Stiliyan Petrov diagnosed with leukaemia

Aston Villa in shock as captain Petrov is diagnosed with acute leukaemia

|

UPDATED:

14:44 GMT, 30 March 2012

Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov has been diagnosed with acute leukaemia.

The news comes as a shock to the West Midlands club.

Petrov, who has been a regular this season, hasn't trained since feeling sick with high temperatures in last weekend’s defeat at Arsenal.

A club statement read: 'We expect to learn more about Stiliyan's situation in due course and we have moved quickly to support him and his family.

Leader: Stiliyan Petrov captains the Barclays Premier League side

Leader: Stiliyan Petrov captains the Barclays Premier League side

'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.'

The 32-year old is a national hero in Bulgaria – after more than 100 caps – and a key figure in Aston Villa’s midfield.

While his family and friends tried to
come to terms with the shock news, Petrov prepared for an immediate
course of treatment and vowed to put everything into a gruelling battle
to regain his health.

Fighter: Petrov (left) played for Villa in Saturday's defeat at Arsenal

Fighter: Petrov (left) played for Villa in Saturday's defeat at Arsenal

Villa’s former Celtic midfielder
prides himself on his fitness and sensed something was wrong at Arsenal
last weekend, when he struggled to keep up with the pace of the game.

He reported his unusually low energy
levels to Villa’s medical staff, who advised him to rest for a couple of
days, in the belief he was suffering from a virus.

When the symptoms persisted, a
concerned Petrov underwent blood tests on Wednesday to try and determine
the cause of his fatigue.

His and Villa’s worst fears were
confirmed 48 hours later, when he was told he was suffering from
leukaemia and was booked in for treatment that will begin this weekend.

In a statement on Celtic's website, manager Neil 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.'

The statement added that Lennon's coaching staff of Alan Thompson and Johan Mjallby, both former team-mates of Petrov as well, had both been left stunned by the news.

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell added: 'This is terrible news and our support and prayers go to Stiliyan, Paulina and their family at this very difficult time.

'Stiliyan was an exceptional player for Celtic and helped to bring incredible success here during the seven years he spent at the club.

'He was also one of the most popular players here, not only within the club but with all our supporters and I know that they, too will want to pass on their support and best wishes to Stiliyan and his family.'