Paul Lambert spoke of the immensely high esteem in which he holds Stan Petrov as the club captain took his final bow at Villa Park.
Petrov led the lap of appreciation in B6 after the Chelsea game as he thanked supporters for their titanic support for him over a seven-year spell in claret and blue.
Lambert may have been frustrated at the result against the Blues but he was quick to hail Petrov for the courage he has shown in horrendous circumstances.
Lambert said: "Words alone are not enough to express the esteem in which I hold this humble man, this good man, this man who has led this team and this club on the field of play with a deep pride and a constant conviction to step out, whatever the circumstances and play his best.
"The 19th minute has become a symbolic expression of the special bond that will always exist between Stan Petrov and the club.
"His retirement from football is secondary, ultimately, to his health and that he is winning that battle makes us all really happy, not only for him but also for his family and close friends.
"That he was here today was inspiring to everyone associated with Villa.
"But the truth is that we know he'll always be here. That's the way he is and it's the way the club is."
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