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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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Petrov joins Villa's coaching staff

Stiliyan Petrov has agreed to take up a new role at Aston Villa to help the club grow their own future stars.

• Blog: Dunne exit

Petrov, 33, recently announced his retirement from all forms of football as he continues treatment for acute leukaemia, but has accepted the role as assistant to Villa development coach Gordon Cowans.

Manager Paul Lambert has been at the forefront of the move to hand his former Celtic team-mate a role on the backroom staff and with his leukaemia in remission since August 2012, Petrov is excited at the opportunity of helping shape the club's future through Villa's highly regarded Academy.

"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.

"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.

"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. I'm looking forward to imparting some of my knowledge and continuing to learn as I grow into the role.

In addition to achieving the highest status of the Premier League Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) in an independent audit of the club's youth development programmes during the 2012-13 season, the Villa Academy emerged as the top-ranked Academy in the country.

Lambert believes Petrov's experience will be invaluable in shaping the future of the club's younger players, and said: "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.

"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' 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.

"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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