Tuesday 03 April 2012
Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish says club captain Stiliyan Petrov is in "amazing spirits" and in determined mood as he begins treatment for acute leukaemia.
The Bulgarian international was diagnosed with the illness last week after developing a fever following the Barclays Premier League match against Arsenal.
The 32-year-old began his treatment in London on Monday with McLeish among those visiting the midfielder.
"He is a leader and he wants to lead himself through this particularly tough time"
- Alex McLeish
"The chairman Randy Lerner, the chief executive Paul Faulkner and myself went to see Stiliyan today with support from his wife, who was there also, on the very first day of his road to recovery," McLeish told the club's official website.
"He is determined to meet it head on, as we expect from Stan, and he was talking really positively and couldn't wait to get started to try and clear up this illness he has.
"Stan himself is in amazing spirits, absolutely fantastic spirits.
"Who knows what the lad is thinking in his head but he is the captain of Aston Villa, he has shown the commitment on the pitch, he is a leader and he wants to lead himself through this particularly tough time.
"He faces a battle, he will stand up to that battle and this afternoon he was talking about wishing he could come back to train.
"That is the kind of spirit he was in. Everybody is here to support him. We thought it was appropriate that we should be with him on the very first day of his recovery."
McLeish has also called for Petrov's privacy to be respected as the player battles against the illness.
"We want to be guided very much by Stan and his wife Paulina and we will do everything, whatever Stan wants"
- Alex McLeish
"We want to be guided very much by Stan and his wife Paulina and we will do everything, whatever Stan wants," added McLeish.
"We realise there will be a lot of people clamouring to talk to him and I'm sure at some stage he will want to say a few words himself.
"I know that the Bulgarian nation are supporting him really strongly also and I'm sure people in his home country would like to talk to him as well.
"We are making this statement because he is going to go through a battle now and there won't be daily bulletins.
"We will update you when we feel it is appropriate on behalf of Stiliyan Petrov and his family."
Petrov was at Villa Park last weekend to watch the League clash against Chelsea and received an emotional standing ovation from the crowd in the 19th minute - timed to match his shirt number.