By Paul Brown
Ex-Villa midfielder Steve Sidwell admits he was rocked by news of Stan Petrov's leukaemia diagnosis but heartened by a text message from his former skipper insisting: "Don't worry, I'll beat it!"
Sidwell was playing golf when he got a call telling him of Petrov's health bulletin.
The ginger-haired central star was so distraught he immediately trudged off the course.
But the Fulham ace, due to face Villa this weekend, was put at ease by a note sent to him from Petrov.
Sidwell also insists one of the reasons for Villa's tough campaign last time out was the dressing room agony over Petrov's diagnosis.
The midfield marauder says the news hit the claret and blue camp "like a bomb."
He said: "I remember the phone call I got when someone told me. I was out on a golf course.
"I actually came off. I walked off the golf course. Until you've met Stan and people know him you wouldn't believe how nice he is, a real gentleman.
"I spoke to a lot of players around at the time at Villa and the way it hit that club was like an absolute bomb because he was such a big figure in the dressing room and around the ground.
"Everyone loved him and still loves him now.
"My time out injured last year doesn't even come into it.
"When I came off the golf course, I knew people would be texting him. I just sent him a text to say 'I wish you all the best and if you need anything.'
"His first text back was to say 'thank-you very much I'll beat it'. That's the sort of person he is.
"I've kept in contact with him and we had a Villa fundraising day for him a few months back that I went up to with a few old players.
"It puts it all into perspective. He's a strong character and he'll get through it and he has got a great family around him and great people around him which obviously helps."
Make sure you're here to back the boys against Norwich City.