Petrov ready for stunning Villa return

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Former Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov has told the Championship-bound club that he is ready to start pre-season training with them.

The Celtic icon won the admiration and support of football fans across the globe in his public battle with leukemia since retiring in 2013.

Earlier this season Petrov returned to Villa in a coaching capacity, but has now indicated that he is ready to make an on-field contribution to the relegated team's bid for immediate promotion.

"I'm looking forward to a return to football again," the Bulgarian said at the opening of the recently launched Stiliyan Petrov Foundation golf day.

"I've told Aston Villa that I'm ready to start a pre-season with them. Obviously they will always have the first look.

"I've been working close to the idea for a year and a half and I've managed to come a long way. I started gradually with slow runs then I moved to five-a-side and then 11-a-side and half a pitch, then Sunday League.

"I've been given permission to train with Villa U21s for the last four months. We've done a couple of tests in the last two weeks and my fitness is getting close to when I retired.

"I'm really excited and I understand the odds will be against me. I'm getting fitter, I'm getting my life back to like what it used to be and it's a way forward."

Petrov added: "I deal with a lot of people who struggle to get their life back on track after going through treatment like that. It's hard. The family, the future, it's dark out there.

"I've got it in my mind, even if it doesn't happen, I've tried. It was taken away from me. I've worked hard all my life to be a footballer and it was taken away from me. I've been given a chance again to do it.

"I'm 36, but players are playing at 38, 39,40. I've looked after myself well and I think I've got a good shout."