Aston Villa midfielder Stiliyan Petrov believes he is lucky to still be alive after being diagnosed with life-threatening leukemia early last year.
The 33-year-old has been forced to suspend his playing career while undergoing a year-long treatment program for the disease, which he has now completed.
And after the success of the intensive chemotherapy programme, Petrov has set his sights on returning to normal life.
"I've had my hard moments but I've had good moments as well,” the Villa midfielder told the club’s official website.
“I'm lucky because some people with this disease will die very quickly. I'm glad that this hard year is behind me now and I can concentrate on getting back to my life.
"I have finished all of the high intensity treatment and from now on I'll be on the softer treatment, which is two years on tablets.
"It was a very, very long year but now, after all this treatment, I can go back to a normal life."
Villa Park was crestfallen when the news broke of the player’s illness last March, and the fans have continued to show their support for Petrov by applauding throughout the 19th minute of each game, in reference to the player’s squad number.
He added: "The support from all the fans, the club, the players, has been amazing.
"The 19th minute has been just incredible. It's them showing their appreciation and their support. I don't know how I can thank the fans because it's been incredible.
"Sometimes I joke with friends when they text me saying, 'You've still got that applause in the 19th minute - when are they going to stop?"
- Sports & Recreation
- Stiliyan Petrov