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Petrov thrilled to take on new role in backroom staff

Agbonlahor Week: ARCHIVE VIDEO - Gabby's 2006 debut goal Wednesday media watch [22.05.13]: Petrov appointed/Vlaar confident
Petrov thrilled to take on new role in backroom staff

Stiliyan Petrov will take up a new role as assistant to Villa development coach Gordon Cowans, the Club is delighted to confirm.

Villa's 33-year-old former captain announced his retirement on May 9, 2013 having battled successfully against acute leukaemia.

The 'Support Stan' campaign reached an emotional climax when a packed Villa Park paid special tribute following the home game against Chelsea on May 11, a scene which was warmly repeated last Sunday at Wigan's DW Stadium.

With his leukaemia in remission since August 2012, Villa's new assistant development coach is determined to pass on his experience on and off the field to the next generation of players emerging through the Club's highly-regarded Academy system.

"I'm very excited by this new challenge and I wish to thank the Club and the manager, Paul Lambert, for giving me the opportunity to continue my association with Villa, which I have always regarded as a privilege," Petrov said.

"I will study for my coaching badges over the coming months and I am looking forward very much to working with Gordon Cowans, someone I know and respect, a true Villa legend.

"My hope is that I can assist Gordon through my own experience in the game and that I can help the young lads to progress, become better players and better human beings. There are important values that we have always stood for at the Club and we will continue to do so.

"As I have said several times recently, the Club has been amazing with me, from the fans to the Chairman, Randy Lerner, the chief executive, Paul Faulkner, the manager and the players, as well as staff at Bodymoor and Villa Park.

"The main thing for me, however, is that it is not for sentimental reasons that I will be taking up this role but because I have something to contribute and I really want to do this.

"The manager allowed me to sit on the bench on Sunday at Wigan so that I could get some perspective from the coaching and management side. I travelled with the team and was able to see close-hand and from a new viewpoint just how the first team prepares for a game and the many elements during a game. I'm looking forward to imparting some of my knowledge and continuing to learn as I grow into the role.

"Everyone knows that the Villa fans have been magnificent all the way with me and, one more, a big and genuine thank you to you all. But I want to take this opportunity to thank the Wigan fans also. I was shocked by how incredible the response was from all of the fans when I walked back on the pitch after Sunday's game. Everybody stayed, everybody stood and everybody applauded. It was a very powerful demonstration of how united football can be.

"So thank you to the Wigan fans and thank you to Wigan Football Club for making Sunday even more special for me.

"Finally, thank you to football fans everywhere because I know how fans of so many clubs in many countries have accepted me into their hearts and stood by me during my illness.

"My gratitude will hopefully be evident from what I intend to put back in the game with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my ability."

In addition to achieving the highest status of the Barclays Premier League Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) in an independent audit of the Club's youth development programmes during the 2012-13 season, the Villa Academy emerged as the No.1 ranked Academy in the country.

Cowans and Petrov have the task of nurturing these talented youngsters through to a level at which they may be capable of stepping up to the first team squad.

Villa manager Paul Lambert said: "I'm delighted that Stiliyan will be assisting Gordon when the new season gets under way and, as much as he's offered this football club in a distinguished playing career, I know he'll have more still to offer in the years to come through what he will be able to impart to the younger lads.

"I had this thought in my head, I spoke to Randy and to Paul about it and we're all really pleased that Stiliyan accepted the role.

"He has a great deal to offer, first and foremost because of the way he is as a guy. He's always been one of the most committed, dedicated and driven individuals and he's always strived to be successful.

"As an international player, too, he' been around the block. He's been the captain at a big club and he's captained his national team, Bulgaria, so his knowledge is of the highest order.

"The scenes on Sunday after our final game of the season at Wigan and the scenes immediately following our final home game against Chelsea served to emphasise how deeply the bond goes between Stiliyan and this club. It was moving and it was a measure of the man.

"His qualities will be put to good, practical use now and he'll have a key role to play for Villa, that's for sure."

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AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 22nd May 2013
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