Bolton's Petrov stands by Stan
Bolton winger Martin Petrov has paid tribute to Bulgarian compatriot Stiliyan Petrov after he was diagnosed with acute leukaemia.
Last Updated: 02/04/12 11:14am
Bolton winger Martin Petrov has paid tribute to Aston Villa captain and Bulgarian compatriot Stiliyan Petrov after he was diagnosed with acute leukaemia.
Martin Petrov has been shocked by the events of the past couple of weeks, having been right next to Fabrice Muamba when his team-mate collapsed after suffering a cardiac arrest during their game against Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
And now he is reeling from the news that his close friend and countryman Stiliyan Petrov, nicknamed Stan, is battling against leukaemia.
But Martin Petrov vowed to play on against Wolves at the weekend after speaking to the Aston Villa captain and when he scored a second-half penalty revealed his own 'Be Strong Stan' tribute written on his under shirt.
"It was a difficult choice considering what has happened in the last few weeks," he said. "It has been all bad news for the first time in my career but I am strong and I pray for Stan.
"I made the decision to play this game because I spoke yesterday to Stan and he said 'I told Aston Villa to play, so now I'm telling you - play the game for me and don't give up fighting.' That was good enough for me, and I decided to play.
"With everything that happened to Fab, the last two or three weeks in football have been unbelievable. They are two strong guys who are very professional, and I just can't understand why this would happen.
"I lived with this guy for two years in Bulgaria. We started our careers together, so it was very difficult when he told me yesterday. It was unbelievable what he was telling me - how he was going to fight this thing.
"Stan was at the Villa game, that's incredible. It shows you how much character he has.
"He is sure he is going to win this match. One hundred per cent. The next month is important for him, but we are behind him."
FIFA president Sepp Blatter also sent his best wishes to the popular Villa skipper via his Twitter account.
"Very sad to hear about Stiliyan Petrov's illness. Wish him strength in his fight to win this battle. Support shown at Villa Park by both sets of fans another sign of all that is good in football. #getwellstan."