Aston Villa have announced that former midfielder Stiliyan Petrov will take up a coaching role with their academy.
The Bulgarian was forced to retire at the end of the season after battling against leukemia.
The 33-year-old will become assistant development coach, working with Gordan Cowans in the club’s academy.
“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 told the club’s official website.
“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.
“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.”
Petrov was diagnosed with acute leukemia in March 2012 and began treatment immediately, but it meant an end to his playing career. Despite the disappointment of having to retire he is focusing on his new role at Villa and being able to contribute to the long-term future of the club.
“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,” he added.
“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.