Stiliyan Petrov relishes Sunday league playing return

Stiliyan Petrov takes part in a charity match at Celtic Park in September
Stiliyan Petrov played in a charity match at Celtic Park in September 2013

Stiliyan Petrov, the former Celtic and Aston Villa midfielder, has spoken of his return to playing as he nears the end of his treatment for leukaemia.

The 35-year-old Bulgarian ended his career last May but has recently been turning out for Wychall Wanderers over-35s in a West Midlands Sunday league.

"I've played the last four games for them and I really enjoyed it," he told BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound.

"It's been a long, difficult road with a lot of treatment."

in March 2012 and has since undergone chemotherapy and taken medication to treat the cancer.

"After what I went through, obviously I'm getting a little bit fitter and I can go back and play a bit.

Stiliyan Petrov
"It's a bit early, though, at half-ten. I can't get my wife to watch me - she says if they move it to half-two she might come and watch me again."

"I've been doing a lot of fitness work, running and playing five-a-side, and I've been getting fitter and fitter.

"I decided that I miss it and I wanted to see if I could go back and play at some kind of level. I found it comfortable there, and the touches give you a bit of an advantage in that league.

"I'm still taking steroids and chemo tablets, and I've still got a few months of treatment. Every time I take the steroid tablets, it messes me up a bit, but another three months to go and I'll be free."

Petrov revealed that friends at the Shirley club had been joking with him for years that he should play for their team when he retired.

"We just laughed about it. But I can use it as a bit of fitness and enjoy football again," he said.

Stiliyan Petrov
Petrov joined Aston Villa from Celtic in 2006

"I'm really enjoying it and I'm looking forward to every Sunday. It's a bit early, though, at half-ten. I can't get my wife to watch me - she says if they move it to half-two she might come and watch me again."

Aged 20, Petrov joined Celtic from CSKA Sofia in 1999 and was a key player for the Glasgow club in his seven years there.

"Things didn't start well for me," he recalled. "I was on the verge of leaving, and I'm glad I didn't make that decision - because the club became very close to my heart and they will always be.

"I've learned to become a good professional, a good person and to become a good player and do the right things.

"I learned everything, my education as a young boy in my homeland in Bulgaria. I learned to be a professional footballer and a good person and to respect football and the fans at Celtic. They helped me through my career."

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