Goals on Sunday: Stiliyan Petrov on his battle against leukaemia
Stiliyan Petrov tells Goals on Sunday how the "incredible" support is aiding his recovery from cancer.
Last Updated: 05/09/13 4:21pm
The former Celtic and Aston Villa midfielder was diagnosed with acute leukaemia last March and has spent the last 18 months undergoing treatment.
The 34-year-old told Ben and Kammy that "so far everything is going well" in his recovery and opened up about his past 18 months and the support he has received from the game.
"Physically, I am ok," he said. "Obviously, I went through a very intensive treatment for a year. At the moment, I am in maintenance on tablets and every three months I am having a little bout of chemo - I can say little because I have seen big ones as well. So far, everything is going well.
"It was OK in the first three months; I was still fit and ok. But after that, it was 'here we go'. There were side effects and everything else. There were some tough times. But I had a lot of support from all the football world, my friends and my family. The support has been incredible."
Petrov, who won 106 caps for Bulgaria, revealed how he first learned that he had leukaemia whilst at Aston Villa, how he piled on the pounds - six kilos more than his doctors recommended - in preparation for his treatment and how he faced up to the situation with his wife.
He was especially grateful for all the support he has received from fans, players, clubs and former cancer sufferers.
"The '#19 Club' has been amazing. I have had so many letters from so many people who have been through leukaemia, beaten it and still are leading a normal life," he said. "It's been great. They were warning me and telling me what was going to happen and what I needed to expect and everything.
"In a situation like that, you don't know what is going to happen. The unknown is scary but I was not scared. I said to my wife 'we will find out the treatment and what could be the worst outcome'. I said: 'I'm not scared about it. Whatever happens, happens'. She was brilliant. She was beside me every minute."
Petrov, who made 228 appearances for Celtic before joining Villa in 2006, will be back at Parkhead next Sunday for a charity match between his #19 Legends side and a Celtic side.
One Direction's Louis Tomlinson is among the celebrities set to play in the match with former and current footballers, including John Terry, Robert Pires, Gareth Barry, Roy Keane and Dimitar Berbatov.
"I said to Neil Lennon that I didn't want to lose to him so I will have a good team, so I can win the game. I will try to play as well a little bit if they can find a (big enough) size of kit for me."