Stiliyan Petrov today revealed his emotional ovation left him on the verge of tears after his charity showpiece at Celtic.
A Dimitar Berbatov hat-trick inspired a Stiliyan XI to a 5-3 win over a Celtic XI in Petrov’s game at a sold-out Parkhead yesterday.
Villa outcast Shay Given played in the same team as boss Paul Lambert with Gabby Agbonlahor, Gareth Barry and John Terry also featuring.
Petrov, who is in remission, was forced to retire this year after being diagnosed with leukaemia in 2012 and the game, watched by 60,000, raised money for his charity foundation.
“I said I wouldn’t cry but I couldn’t hold it. It was an absolute privilege. I'm just happy to see my family every day,” said Petrov, who was accompanied by wife Paulina and sons Kristiyan and Stiliyan.
“It is just great. I was in a dark place a year-and-a-half ago.
“They have always been brilliant to me. It’s been amazing. I’m here with all these friends and the Celtic family. It’s incredible. The supporters showed the world how special this place is.”
Petrov said of his friendship with ex-England captain Terry: “It’s blossomed over time. We were both captains and have become great friends who stay in touch.”
The teams were managed by Kenny Dalglish and ex-Villa and Celtic chief Martin O’Neill and Henrik Larsson, Chris Sutton, Pierre Van Hooijdonk and Bhoys boss Neil Lennon played for the hosts.
Berbatov opened the scoring inside the first minute but Larsson levelled after 10 minutes.
Martin Petrov’s strike regained the lead for Petrov’s XI and Fulham striker Berbatov completed his treble with goals either side of the break.
Van Hooijdonk and Warren Brown made it 4-3 but Westlife’s Nicky Byrne sealed the win for Petrov’s side.