Aston Villa midfielder Stiliyan Petrov admits he is taking inspiration from Fabrice Muamba after he was diagnosed with acute leukaemia. Petrov, who is due to begin treatment in a London hospital on Monday, received a rapturous reception when he appeared at Villa Park on Saturday to watch his club's 4-2 loss to Chelsea.
The Bulgarian, who spoke to his team-mates before the match, was seen to wipe away a tear as he acknowledged the cheers of the crowd and he insists he can win his battle with the disease. He believes the miraculous recovery of Bolton Wanderers midfielder Muamba, who was left fighting for his life after suffering a cardiac arrest during a FA Cup quarter-final against Tottenham a fortnight ago, shows anything is possible.
Petrov revealed a picture of Muamba sitting up in bed released on Friday had inspired him, along with numerous well-wishes, to get back to health. "I would like to thank all of the people who have left messages of support. The response has been overwhelming and I appreciate it very much," Petrov said in a statement.
"This is a difficult time for my family and myself and I ask people to respect my privacy. With the help and love of my family, my team-mates, all of my friends in football, Aston Villa and all of the fans, I am sure I will beat this illness and I am determined to do this.
"I saw the picture released by Fabrice Muamba, my fellow player, and it has inspired me as has all of the support in the past 24 hours. For me, football will have to take a back seat for a while, but I'm here to support my team-mates today and I will continue to support them as I know they will support me. Thank you to everyone."