Aston Villa club captain Stiliyan Petrov has revealed messages of support from people who have overcome leukaemia have provided inspiration in his own battle to conquer the illness.

The Bulgaria international has been undergoing chemotherapy since being diagnosed as suffering from acute leukaemia three months ago. But it did not stop Petrov from celebrating his 33rd birthday by attending Villa's first day of pre-season under new manager Paul Lambert at Bodymoor Heath.

Petrov, who played alongside Lambert at Celtic, said: "It has been hard. I can't say it has been easy. It has been hard but I didn't expect anything else. Life is hard and we live in it."

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