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Petrov announces retirement

Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov announced his retirement on Thursday following his battle against acute leukemia.

The 33-year-old was diagnosed with the condition in March of last year but has undergone treatment and is now in remission.

"It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my retirement from the game," Petrov said in a statement released by the club. "I've never been a person for making grand statements. I've only ever got on with my job, while remaining grateful to have great teammates, great people around me and, most of all, a fantastic family.

Petrov joined the Premier League club from Celtic in 2006 and has gone on to become a fan-favorite at Villa Park. Spectators have lent support by applauding throughout the 19th minute of games, a reference to his squad number.

"My leukemia is now in remission and I have finished my high intensity treatment," Petrov continued. "From now on I'll be on the softer treatment, which is two years on tablets. I feel lucky. Not everyone is as lucky as I have been."

Villa revealed that Petrov will lead the team in its traditional lap of honor following its final home match of the season against Chelsea on Saturday.