Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov beamed with pride as thousands turned out to a charity football match in his honour in Halesowen as he battles leukaemia.
Fans gave him a rapturous welcome as he arrived at the home of Halesowen Town football club with his family for the charity match yesterday.
The 33-year-old is recovering after being diagnosed with leukaemia in March but managed to attend the match at the Grove stadium and watch the game.
The match saw a team made up of friends of the footballer, known affectionately by the Villa faithful as Stan, take on a team of Aston Villa legends.
The two teams were Villa Lions and Legends and the Stiliyan Petrov XI.
Among the players taking part included Steve Staunton, Gordon Cowans and Lee Hendrie with former teammate Gareth Barry watching from the stands.
Villa legend Gary Shaw said: “Everyone just wishes the best for him.
“We went for a fun day out and a game of football but behind it there was an even more important reason of support.”
A match day raffle and auction of football memorabilia was also held during yesterday’s fixture, which attraced around 3,000 people, to boost the fund.
Dean Dodds, a friend of the Villa players and who organised the game and captained the Stiliyan Petrov XI said support had come from the footballing world including former Villa and Baggies boss Ron Atkinson.
Since the shock news of Petrov’s diagnosis, fans and Villa staff have been busy raising money on his behalf.
Around £10,000 was raised for charity on the day with organisers saying cash was still being counted up today.
Petrov, who joined Villa from Celtic for £6.5 million in 2006, underwent chemotherapy when the cancer was diagnosed forcing him to the sidelines.
But the club have kept him on the squad list for this season and fans still cheer for him at every game.
Villa masseurs also completed a 400-mile “Pedal for Petrov” cycle ride.Subscribe to our Newsletter