Stiliyan Petrov: Aston Villa Star Inspires Following Leukaemia Diagnosis
Last weekend, the heart-wrenching news of Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov's imminent fight against acute leukaemia gained widespread media attention. Never a player who courted the tabloid headlines, Petrov’s tragic plight tugged at the heartstrings of a concerned nation, as his story transcended the sports world.
The poignant image of Petrov, who has since retired from football, sitting in the stands watching his former comrades go into battle at Stamford Bridge mere days after his diagnosis really touched me. Here was a man, a warrior, for whom his life had, all of a sudden, been completely turned upside down, showing profound stoicism in the face of huge adversity.
We would have forgiven him for crumbling, falling under the burden, yet Petrov set the pedestal from which he will fight for his life with unnerving defiance.
Moving to Villa from Celtic—where he had spent the previous seven years—in 2006, as Martin O‘Neill‘s first Villa signing, Petrov soon asserted himself as an indefatigable cog in the club’s midfield machine. A tireless, honest playmaker, the Bulgarian soon became a terrace favourite at Villa Park, as his gusto was met with allegiance from the stands. Petrov became Villa’s captain in the summer of 2009, after the retirement of its previous incumbent, the Dane Martin Laursen.
Yet in the wider footballing sphere Petrov perhaps never got the recognition his talent deserved. He was an effective practitioner, a dependable player with adept ball control and an eye for the odd spectacular goal, but he was absent from the tabloids. Petrov was a player everyone knew of without really knowing. Tragic as it is to say, his acute leukaemia diagnosis has changed that.
The story of Petrov now removes the hidden shroud of Petrov the man, as his hour of need is met with empathy from all corners. This is a man for whom the fight against relegation has been replaced overnight by the far more onerous fight for life.
Petrov’s treatment of the disease started this week, but as he slips back under the shroud of anonymity he will respectfully be afforded at this trying time, he does not go alone.
His plight has united the diverse, fractious tribes of British football in support of a cause far more important than kits and badges, three points and trophies. Petrov is an inspiration to the faceless legions of sufferers who reside in all corners of this country and beyond, who, in their darkest hours, may feel they are on their own.
Facing the media throng with a poise and stoic grace that can only be admired, Petrov revealed how, taking inspiration from Bolton’s Fabrice Muamba, he knew that he too could triumph over his adversity. This was not a time for if’s, but's and maybe’s; rather, he was simple and concise: “I will beat this."
For Petrov, the pursuit of athletic perfection has now reached its conclusion. His attention is now turned to a far greater adversity and his greatest challenge.
Luck and hope in such a situation are normal responses, yet as I looked at Petrov as he sat in Stamford Bridge and as he addressed the media I saw something far greater: faith. His life may have changed forever, but Petrov, the Bulgarian battler, isn’t done fighting yet.
So I am not sending hope, Stiliyan, but faith.
We will see you on the other side, brother.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?