TESTIMONIALS

Gareth Barry, Everton midfielder, former Villa teammate

"My heart sank when I heard about Stan's leukaemia diagnosis. I have known Stan for many years - I know his wife and his two children really well too - and I was thinking of them all. It was really hard to accept and to take in. I found words hard to come by. When I'd meet up with Stan soon after, it was difficult to find the right things to say. But if anyone could beat it, it's Stan because of his incredible strength of character. Every time I see him now he's looking better and better and his recovery has been an inspiration to so many people. Stan was always a real team player, always looking out for the lads and he was also one of the nicest guys you could wish to meet. On the pitch, he was a fantastic professional. Playing with him was just brilliant, I really enjoyed it and I think we struck up a good partnership with Villa. He kept that standard up for many, many years and was a fantastic player for Villa. Stan's strength was his composure on the ball. He never seemed to panic and always seemed to find the right pass. I enjoyed playing alongside him because, as a player, he was brilliant. As a person, he's exemplary. You speak to anyone in the game and it doesn't matter if you've met him once or a hundred times, people say great things about him. He is one of the most popular men in football, no doubt about it, so friendly and such a nice guy. He's got good banter in the dressing room as well but equally he knows when it's time to be serious and professional. You will only hear good stuff said about Stan Petrov."

 

 

Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool ambassador, former Celtic manager and player

"Stiliyan is an absolute credit to his family who must be so proud of the courage he has shown in everything he's gone through. He's an example to everyone that the stronger you are and the more belief you retain then the better chance you have when faced by something as terrible as he has had to face. Cancer touches most families. We had our own experience of the trauma when my wife, Marina, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She coped and came through it be remaining really strong and brave and Stan tackled it in exactly the same way. He's always been the most genuine type of guy and someone you enjoyed being around which is why people have always had that love and affection for Stan. It hasn't surprised me at all the way that football supporters and people in general have displayed their support for a man who has given everything he has to give on a football pitch."

 

Martin O'Neill, former Celtic and Aston Villa manager

"Stiliyan had a strong mentality, great strength and he was very generous of spirit. That came very much to the fore at Aston Villa when he became captain of the team and his generosity to other players and everyone around the football club was brilliant. It was a big, big shock to hear that he had contracted the illness. Obviously, anyone can get struck with cancer but it was a massive shock to everyone for a footballer in the prime of his life to be hit with someone like this and he's had to cope with it. It's been a long, long battle but thankfully he's coming out the other side of it. That he's fought his way through some very dark days is no surprise to anyone who would know him and, with that experience, he's also demonstrating again his generosity in that he wants to help other people who are coming through something similar through his foundation."

 

Paul Lambert, Aston Villa manager, former Celtic teammate

"I don’t think anyone can comprehend what Stiliyan has been going through unless they have themselves. It puts everything in perspective really. Certainly, I can’t imagine what he has gone through at certain times. The way he has battled through and retained his dignity, his sense of humour and the time he has for people, that has been unbelievable. Lesser people, no wonder they struggle through something like this. He was a really close friend of mine at Celtic and I’m delighted he is getting there. I've actually known him since he was 19 when I first played with him and never in a million years did I think anything like that would happen to him because he was such a fit lad. For many people now, he is an inspiration, someone who has battled through a terrible illness and shown that strength of character that you need. I know he'll continue to fight through his foundation to bring awareness about this disease and also to make a real difference in the lives of people who are affected by these illnesses as well as their loved ones."

 

Henrik Larsson, former Celtic teammate

"First and foremost, as a person he is fantastic. He always came into the dressing room with a big smile on his face and he was always happy. He was never shy in telling a joke and, of course, on the pitch he was one of the best midfield players I ever played with. He had a great vision for the game and you could see he was a real player from the earliest days he came to Celtic. In the beginning he had a tough time settling in but that's not unusual. He was coming from a completely different culture and background and he didn't even speak English. But he came a great Celtic player, a vital part of a team which was successful and played good football. So I was not surprised at all that he has displayed the qualities of a true fighter in his battle against acute leukaemia. He has always been a fighter since those early days when I first came to know him and he has shown those same qualities to battle back from his illness."

 

Neil Lennon, Celtic manager, former Celtic teammate

"He was the young pup of the litter in our team, a baby compared to the rest of us, but he was fabulously talented and went on to have a great time at Villa until the abrupt end to his career. I really can't speak highly enough of him. I remember him being so powerful around the pitch. He worked on his physique and fitness and, because he always had the ability, that helped him to become one of the best box-to-box midfield players in British football at that time. He had a great temperament when it came to the games, he could weigh in with goals and, away from the pitch, he had a great sense of humour. He's a great family man, a really nice person and he's tremendously dedicated in everything he does. All the trials and tribulations he's had to go through, people have wanted to come out and show their support for him because of the man he is. I know the setting up of his foundation has meant a lot to him, I wish him continued success with it and I know he'll touch a lot more people's lives in a really positive way because he's a man who sets himself goals and then goes out to achieve them."

 

John Terry, Chelsea captain, former England captain

"When Stiliyan contacted me and asked me to play in his charity game at Celtic Park, it was a yes straight away. We have got to know each other well over the years from being captain of our teams. He was a great leader at Villa and when we played them soon after he was diagnosed with his illness, the Villa fans gave him an ovation that was simply incredible. When you experience that, football is forgotten. It is about a man's life then and it's great to see how everyone in the football community has come together to support him. It's also a measure of the man. I have been at the Villa a few times and got stick but when we went for that game and wore the 'Support Stan' T-shirts the response we got from the fans was just amazing."

 

John Hartson, football pundit, former Celtic teammate

"Stan was a machine as a player. He was unstoppable at times and he had so much ability. His attitude was second to none and he was just a wonderful footballer. Besides that, he is a family man and I got to know his wife, Paulina, and their two wonderful children. The thing about him is this, I never heard anyone ever say a bad word about Stiliyan Petrov. He gave 100% every day in training and he was a fantastic teammate on and off the pitch. It's an awful experience to come through cancer and you really need the support of family and all if your special friends. It puts football in perspective, that's for sure, when someone's life is in danger and the way Stan has come through is a real example."

 

Margarita Berbatova, mother of Dimitar Berbatov

"Stiliyan is like my son and I'm happy to see that all of us want to show how much we love him."

The Stiliyan Petrov Foundation is a registered charity number 1154131.

Registered office: 4 Winckley Square, Preston, United Kingdom, PR1 3JJ.