Stiliyan Petrov has announced that he hopes to return to professional football in the next few months, with the aim of playing for Aston Villa next season.
Villa captain up until he was forced to retire in 2013 with acute leukaemia, Petrov has been on the club's coaching staff for the past year. Now, he's planning to make a return as a player. Recent tests have revealed that the 36-year-old is close to regaining the level of fitness he had prior to his cancer diagnosis and – if all goes well – he's prepared to return to the squad for pre-season training.
At a charity golf day in aid of the Stiliyan Petrov Foundation, the former Bulgaria international told the Birmingham Mail: "I have decided to start trying to play football again at a higher level. Aston Villa remains my priority.
"I am very excited. People will be asking a lot of questions, and will have a lot of doubts." He added: "I always believe that if you work hard, you will get fitter. My fitness is getting close to when I retired, so let's see where we go."
Petrov also played for CSKA Sofia and Celtic in his career, winning titles at both clubs. Though he realises it will take a huge effort to re-establish himself in the Aston Villa squad, he's said: "I've got it in my mind, even if it doesn't happen, I've tried.
"It was taken away from me. I've worked hard all my life to be a footballer and it was taken away from me.
"I'm 36, but players are playing at 38, 39, 40. I've looked after myself well and I think I've got a good shout."