Aston Villa captainStiliyan Petrov, who has been battling leukemia since March 2012, on Wednesday announced his retirement from the game. "It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my retirement," the 33-year-old said. "The emotions are overwhelming, but the continued support of family, friends and the great people I have come to know will make it easier for me to move on from the only life I've ever known."
Petrov joined Villa in 2006 from Celtic after spending seven seasons in Scotland. He made 218 appearances for Villa in all competitions and earned 92 caps for his native Bulgaria.
In August, it was revealed that the disease was in remission after four months of chemotherapy. Petrov was diagnosed with leukemia after developing a fever following a 3-0 loss at Arsenal in March 2012. Petrov says he will now focus on working for the foundation that he has set up to fight the disease.
"For the life I've lived in football, I will always be incredibly grateful,” he said. “For the opportunity this crazy thing that happened in my life has given me, I also feel grateful in a strange kind of way. This crazy thing, somehow, has touched people and I want to try to channel this in a positive way. This will be the greatest challenge of my life."