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Stiliyan Petrov asks to end applause tribute

Petrov asks to end applause tribute
© PA Photos
Former Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov asks fans to stop their 19th-minute tribute to him following his successful battle against leukaemia.

Former Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov has asked fans to stop their 19th-minute tribute to him following his successful battle against leukaemia.

The 34-year-old Bulgarian was diagnosed with the illness in March 2012 before entering remission five months later.

Villa's fans applauded during the 19th minute of every game last season as a mark of respect for their former skipper, whose squad number was 19 before retiring in May.

"Fans have asked me about it and I want to make clear that it was a great thing from the Villa fans, an unbelievable gesture which meant so much to me and my family through some of the toughest periods we had to endure," Petrov told the club's official website.

"The fans have shown me so much love, support and respect and I will hold this forever in my heart. But we all have to move on and I have no problem with this. In fact, I know they will always be beside me, they're with me and I'm in their thoughts. That's a precious and very humbling thing."

Petrov is expected to take to the field for the first time since announcing his retirement when he captains a Stiliyan XI against a Celtic XI on September 8 in a charity match at Parkhead.

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