On this day: Stiliyan Petrov signs for Aston Villa

On this day in 2006, Stiliyan Petrov became Martin O'Neill's first signing at Aston Villa.

Club legends come about very rarely, but when they do they do not always arrive from the most high-profile of leagues. On August 30, 2006, a Bulgarian player made the move from the Scottish Premier League and Celtic to the English Premier League and Aston Villa.

The fee was in the £6.5m region and he was Martin O'Neill's first signing since taking over at Villa Park. Over the years the road between the SPL and Premier League has been littered with players who just couldn't make it. But Stiliyan Petrov was different.

Although he had not come from the most glamorous of leagues, the potential £1.5m in add-ons as part of the deal made him the second most expensive Villa player ever, behind Juan Pablo Angel. The Colombian had one excellent season and several mediocre ones - so there was a level of stigma attached to big-money deals.

At first, the Bulgarian did not get into O'Neill's side regularly, due to indifferent form and strong midfield competition. However, this is where his resilience first shone through - the same mental toughness that he would later have to draw on off the field.

With many discussions that Petrov would become another SPL flop, Petrov always believed in himself. In the 2008-09 season, he started to show what he was about and began to pay off large chunks of the transfer fee. In 2008 he was also named as captain for the first time.

By the end of that season Petrov was firmly a fan favourite. He won the Player of the Year and Players' Player of the Year and put pen to paper on a new four-year deal - confirming that this was where he wanted to finish his playing career.

However, he was not finished. He wanted to add to his excellent season, and was rewarded with the captaincy full-time following Martin Laursen's retirement. Under his guidance, Villa finished sixth in the Premier League, reached the FA Cup semi-finals and the League Cup final - although they lost 2-1 to Manchester United.

He remained as club captain through the club's many recent managers, Gerard Houllier, Alex McLeish and Paul Lambert and even through his illness; he was diagnosed with acute leukaemia in March 2012.

Initially Petrov's determination was such that he planned to return to football following his treatment but, despite the disease going into remission in August last year he did retire this May 9 to continue his fight.

During his time as a player at the club, Petrov scored 12 times in 218 appearances - including an effort from nearly the half-way line against Derby County in 2008. He was inducted into the club's Hall of Fame in 2013 and now works as a coach, having agreed to a role in May.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on the touchline during a game with Man Utd on March 12, 2011
Read Next:
Wenger applauds Villa's youthful approach
You May Like
Recomended from Sports Mole

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

1Wolverhampton WanderersWolves27195350203062
2Derby CountyDerby27157544232152
3Cardiff CityCardiff27155740251550
4Aston Villa27138639241547
5Bristol City2813874033747
6Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd27134104031943
7Leeds UnitedLeeds27134103729843
10Preston North EndPreston27101163127441
12Norwich CityNorwich28117102831-340
13Ipswich TownIpswich27123124039139
14Queens Park RangersQPR2789103137-633
15Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest27102153343-1032
17Sheffield WednesdaySheff Weds27710103034-431
20Hull City27510123944-525
21Bolton WanderersBolton2767142545-2025
22Burton Albion2766152146-2524
23Birmingham CityBirmingham2765161538-2323
Login, I already have my ad-free pass
Log in with Facebook to customise Sports Mole
Buy ad-free access (show me the options)
Buy monthly ad-free access for £1.20/month
Buy yearly ad-free access for £12 (2 months free)
Settings - Logout - Manage your account
Settings - Logout - Manage your account