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Author Topic: Petrov article  (Read 1187 times)

Offline hilts_coolerking

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Petrov article
« on: May 26, 2019, 09:46:43 AM »
From the Guardian website.

It was 11 years ago but Stiliyan Petrov makes it sound like yesterday. He knows exactly how he positioned his body to get the technique right, remembers that lovely feeling after the inside of his left foot clipped the ball on the half-volley, and can still see Roy Carroll, Derby’s goalkeeper, frantically trying to chase a shot that sailed over his head and into the top corner. Standing closer to the halfway line than the penalty area, Petrov must have been at least 45 yards out. “I don’t know the exact distance,” he says. “Just go as long as you can when you write about it.”

Petrov breaks into laughter as he makes that last comment, adding that it was “as close as I could get to shoot” back in the days when he had been converted into a holding midfielder at Aston Villa. His goal – the third of six in a thumping victory at Pride Park – was always going to crop up in conversation during a hugely enjoyable couple of hours in his company, especially as it is Derby who stand in Villa’s way in Monday’s Championship play‑off final.

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For Petrov that goal was one of many special moments during a stellar career in which he made more than 500 club appearances, led Villa out at Wembley twice, won 10 trophies with Celtic and represented Bulgaria 106 times. It is quite a CV, all in all, and yet Petrov knows football is not the first thing that springs to mind for many people when they think of him now.

“We know how important social media and the internet is,” he says. “You want your kids to remember you sometimes for where you’ve played, what you’ve achieved and goals they’ve seen. But I see my kids watching [clips] when I’m talking about my [leukaemia] treatment. Every time when they google my name, the first thing that comes up is ‘survived cancer’. Everywhere we go and when I’m out with the kids, people will say: ’How is your health?’ My youngest son, Kristiyan, said a couple of months ago: ‘Why is everyone asking you that? You’re OK now.’ They don’t understand. But this will always happen.”

Petrov was Villa’s captain when he was diagnosed with acute leukaemia in March 2012 and, to be clear, he has no problem with the public still asking about his wellbeing. He is far too nice a man for that and, in keeping with his positive outlook on life, realises that his association with the illness can be a force for good when it comes to raising awareness via the foundation he launched six years ago. “I’ve learned how to love it. Because I have to love it. Because helping people is what we do – that’s why we have the foundation,” Petrov says.

Although Petrov was in remission within five months of being diagnosed, his journey back to a full and normal life took closer to five years. He went through intensive chemotherapy for 12 months and for a year and a half his two children had to live with their grandparents. “My boys have seen me in a state that nobody should see their parents in,” Petrov says. “And kids do have memories.”

Even now, when Petrov looks, sounds and feels so well, there is a backdrop that is easily overlooked. “People think: ‘He got over it.’ But it doesn’t work that way. It will always be on my mind at some point. You always think that there’s going to be a moment that you have to deal with it. It will never go away, especially when I have a foundation and we work with a lot of people with the same issue. Every day there is a story and you go: ‘Oh dear me.’

“But as for our own experience as a family, I don’t think about that. My thinking is positive and I’m going forward. I was diagnosed seven years ago and given little percentage to survive. And seven years later I’m still here. Very happy, back to full energy and back to full fitness. I still play football with friends, with my kids, and I’m looking forward to going back to football [full time].”

Petrov’s passion for the game is remarkable. He turns 40 in July but still plays six-a-side twice a week. A few years ago he was paying £3 subs on a Sunday morning and helping Wychall Wanderers win the Central Warwickshire Over-35s Premier Division One Cup. This season he turned out for Silhill, an amateur club in Solihull. Petrov talks with great excitement about those experiences, yet he wants more from football. Much more. “I would love to be a manager,” he says.

That idea has been in Petrov’s head for a long time. At the end of 2015 he spoke with Paulina, his wife, and put together a plan with managing in mind. Petrov started doing his coaching badges – he is on the pro licence now – and next week travels to Madrid to complete an executive master’s degree for international players, which is a university course run by Uefa that focuses on football administration and management. Gilberto Silva, Luis García and Gaizka Mendieta are among his fellow students.

“It is difficult, it is challenging and people ask me why I’m doing it,” says Petrov. “But I have to do it. I’ve seen a lot of my friends, they walk into the job and they find themselves in a difficult position because they never understood how to do it. And by the time they’ve learned it, they’ve failed so many times that they never have the opportunity again.”

Petrov, who has already applied for a couple of positions, goes on to tell an interesting story about his own situation. “I was at a big charity event recently and I mentioned that I’m trying to go back into football, and somebody said: ‘Do you think because of your cancer history somebody won’t appoint you?’ You know what, I’d never even thought of that. I said: ‘Why should that be a barrier?’ And they said: ‘The pressure and everything, do you think that’s why people maybe stay away?’ I’m thinking: ‘Well, they shouldn’t. If somebody goes through something like [leukaemia], they should be happy to have someone that strong-minded.’”

So strong-minded that Petrov lost the best part of 50kg – weight that he put on during his cancer treatment – to return to pre-season training with Villa in 2016, three years after he had announced his enforced retirement. Petrov never missed a session that summer and also featured in a couple of friendlies. He felt good. Really good. But then, in a moment that Petrov never saw coming, Roberto Di Matteo, Villa’s manager at the time, told him there would be no contract for him.

“As much as I have a love of football, there is a bigger picture there. But they never saw it,” says Petrov, who had been happy to play for free. “I always bring it up and I shouldn’t. But it hurts that I never had an opportunity. Wearing the shirt in a competitive game would show people that you’re back to normal, back to where you belong. I remember speaking to the boys and I said if I play my first game, we’re all going to wear ‘Hope for everyone’ on the shirt.”

A warm, gregarious man, Petrov is not the sort to bear a grudge. He feels a deep sense of affection for Villa, so much so that he describes himself as a “big fan”, and he still remains close to many of the players, including Jack Grealish, who invited him to the training ground a few months ago for a bike session. “It was great fun but I couldn’t walk for a week after,” Petrov says, laughing.

Petrov speaks extremely highly of Grealish and believes the way the midfielder plays against Derby will have a “huge” bearing on the result. “He’s been the starlight of Villa. I think if he performs, if he’s at the top of his game, he can produce something from nothing. And when you have a player like that, you want him to be there for the best games. If Derby give Jack a little bit of freedom, he will hurt them. And I think they’re aware of that. I think you can see every team now, they try to hurt him from the start. But he’s got great resilience, he’ll get up, he’ll smile and he’ll go again. That’s the strength of Jack.”

It feels like the strength of Petrov, too. “I understand that this is a new chapter in my life,” he adds. “I don’t expect people to give me a manager’s job because of my name. I want people to give me a job because of what I’d like to do and how I’d like to achieve it. And if I have to go and prove it at a lower level, I’ll go and prove it.”

Online Legion

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Re: Petrov article
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2019, 10:09:34 AM »
Top man.

Offline Chris Smith

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Re: Petrov article
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2019, 11:04:50 AM »
It still annoys me that Di Matteo got rid of him.

I was ill awith a similar condition at around the same time and can emphasise with much of what he says. Great to hear him being so positive and hope that he is given the opportunity to succeed in management.

Offline Abbeyfealeavfc

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Re: Petrov article
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2019, 11:41:46 AM »
A colossus of a man who deserves to have a great future in the game. I'm glad he is an "ambassador" for AVFC!
Good fortune Stan and UTV!

Offline p_ad

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Re: Petrov article
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2019, 02:53:27 PM »
A real inspiration ,and fantastic bloke

Online Three Spires Villa

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Re: Petrov article
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2019, 04:21:44 PM »
One of my favourites great bloke Petrov day at Wigan was ace

Offline frankmosswasmyuncle

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Re: Petrov article
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2019, 04:41:35 PM »
We love you Stan.
There's no doubting you are Villa!

Offline Pete3206

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Re: Petrov article
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2019, 05:58:08 PM »
I was at a charity auction a few months ago, where Stan outbid a young man for a signed European Cup shirt. You could see the lad was gutted, but he obviously couldn't afford to match his bid. Anyway, Stan settled up and immediately shook the lad's hand and passed the shirt to him. Marvelous.

Offline Ad@m

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Re: Petrov article
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2019, 07:28:55 PM »
This will be controversial but I don't think he was a great player. Good, but not great.

What absolutely isn't controversial though is he seems to be a great person and has got through something truly dreadful, coming out the other side with an incredible attitude.

Offline itmustbe_it is!

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Re: Petrov article
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2019, 07:35:22 PM »
I was at a charity auction a few months ago, where Stan outbid a young man for a signed European Cup shirt. You could see the lad was gutted, but he obviously couldn't afford to match his bid. Anyway, Stan settled up and immediately shook the lad's hand and passed the shirt to him. Marvelous.

That's the sort of thing legends do.
Being a legend is about more than talent, though he had that plenty.

Proud to have met Stan a couple of times through non-football stuff, but he always was happy to talk football and Villa. I meet a fair few Midlands players professionally and that is not always the case, which is fair enough obviously, but Stan was a cut above.

Offline OCD

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Re: Petrov article
« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2019, 07:43:44 PM »
I hope he's back with us again at some point, whether it's as a coach or whatever is the right fit at the right time.


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