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Icons: Stiliyan Petrov – What Martin O’Neill threatened me with

#TuesdayThoughts: Tammy Abraham aims high – for himself and the team Icons: 5 things - Stiliyan Petrov’s magic moments
Icons: Stiliyan Petrov – What Martin O’Neill threatened me with

Stiliyan Petrov says Martin O’Neill once threatened to loan him to League Two – but then he found his form and a new position as our anchor man.

Petrov enjoyed an amazing debut in the draw at West Ham in September 2006, showing the attacking instincts that made him a star at Celtic.

But soon after, he struggled - with the manager questioning the standard of his performances.

He switched to the right side of midfield – a role that didn’t suit him.

But soon after, the soon-to-be skipper became the side’s enforcer in a more defensively-minded position.

He told Club TV:  “I had managed to score my first goal – against Sheffield United – I’d had a couple of assists. Everything was going well. But then, all of a sudden, I had to move to the right to play in the wide area. 

“For me, this was very difficult because in the Premier League the full-backs and quicker and stronger. It was tough. But it was important for me to work for the team and do my best for the team. I had a big dip in my form. Then, it was difficult to get back in the team.

“This was a normal situation at a football club and it was up to me to battle. But it took a few months. I wasn’t playing much. The fans were on the back of me. There was a lot of expectation on me. But I know what I needed to do – work harder and get fitter and wait for my chance.

“I remember Martin O’Neill said if I didn’t make it, he would loan me to a League Two team. I don’t know if he was serious or he was joking.

“But it worked out in the end. I had to adapt in a different position because Martin had amazing players going forward – the likes of Carew, Young, Agbonlahor – they gave him a different dimension. 

“My position at Aston Villa changed completely. It wasn’t really new for me because I played that role for my national team. I knew it inside out – I knew what was required from me. 

“I knew I wouldn’t be the same player as I was at Celtic. But I knew the job would benefit the team – and the team is always the most important thing.”

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Paul Brown
By @paulbrownavfc 13th November 2018