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Apr 17, 2013

Petrov ready to cheer Villa to safety

Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov has declared he is ready to return to "a normal life" after a year battling acute leukaemia.

Petrov has undergone intensive chemotherapy treatment since he was diagnosed with the disease in March of last year, but with his leukaemia now in remission, the popular Bulgarian has visited Villa's training base as he gets his mind back on football.

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There are no suggestions that 33-year-old Petrov will be making a return to Premier League action any time soon, but the presence of the midfielder at Villa's Bodymoor Heath gave all concerned a lift as the club battle against relegation in the final month of the season.

"It was a very, very long year but now, after all this treatment, I can go back to a normal life," Petrov told Villa's official website. "I have finished all of the high intensity treatment and from now on I'll be on the softer treatment, which is two years on tablets.

"I had my hard moments but I had good moments as well. I can say I'm lucky because some people with this disease will die very quickly and I managed to keep battling and still be here, still standing. When it happened I knew what kind of disease it was but I didn't know anything about what kind of treatment it was. I didn't know how long it would go on for, what would happen and things like that.

"Now I can start doing things that I couldn't do in the last year. I can take the kids to school, I can come here, I can start doing a bit of work and losing a little bit of weight. Only people who have been through it and the closest people will know what you've been through. It's a great relief and I'm going to live my life. Sometimes people feel sorry for you and things like that. I'm not going to be like that.

"I'm just going to keep going and try to start picking up some work now and then, things that I want to do and I'll think about what this will be."

Villa fans have held a standing ovation in the 19th minute of every match since Petrov's illness was confirmed, with their tributes to the club's No. 19 helping him in some of his darkest hours.

"The 19th minute tribute has been just incredible," he states. "It's just showing the fans showing their appreciation and their support. I don't know how I can thank the fans because it's been incredible.

"A lot of people, a lot of sportsmen have been diagnosed with conditions such as mine and they haven't really had the opportunity to receive the kind of encouragement and support that I have.

"It's really deep down and I always say that some people go through these diseases fighting on their own while I have the support of millions around the world, especially Villa fans and Celtic fans and the fans of Bulgaria as well. I haven't really managed to do an interview in Bulgaria yet to say thanks but that will come as well. It's just incredible."

Petrov will be attending some of Villa's games as they look to scramble clear of the relegation zone in the coming weeks and he is backing his team-mates to win their battle against the drop.

"I love coming to the games, watching the game, seeing the players, seeing the fans and things like that, it's great," he added. "I'll be there for every game until the end of the season and it will be great to see the boys putting in performances like that have been for the past couple of weeks.

"There are still a lot of games to come, a lot of points to be picked up, so there's nothing to worry about. You need to believe that you are going to be out of that situation. You have to keep fighting."

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