Football put into perspective
"the news that was about to be announced not only shocked me, but possibly the whole of the football world."
April 16th, 2012
I am sure most football supporters would understand the frustration Aston Villa fans are currently experiencing.
It appears from the outside looking in that the only people that actually care about the club that we love are in fact us, the supporters. Chairman Randy Lerner seems to have lost interest, while the manager has somehow managed to turn one of the most entertaining sides to watch into possibly the most boring side in the Premiership.
So the night before we were due to take on Chelsea, and fears of relegation being very realistic, I received information that the club were to make an announcement about our club captain, Stiliyan Petrov.
With the way the club had been run over the past few years,you could understand my way of thinking when I thought they would announce that Stiliyan was about to sign a pre-contract for another club.
However, the news that was about to be announced not only shocked me, but possibly the whole of the football world.
Just weeks after Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba had collapsed on the field, Aston Villa announced that Bulgarian international Stiliyan Petrov was diagnosed with acute leukemia.
The condition was diagnosed following the clubs 3-0 defeat to Arsene Wengers Arsenal side. During that game I remember stating to a friend that Petrov didn’t look his normal self and wondered if he was carrying an injury.
Of course no-one would have foreseen what was coming, not Stan, not his family, not even the club doctors.
There was talk in the Bulgarian press that the player would retire from both club and international football, which I am sure everyone would understand. However, his agent has since denied this stating that Petrov hasn’t thought about the game, and his priority is his health and beating this illness.
Stiliyan Petrov has been a fan favourite at Villa Park since his debut he made in a goalless draw against West Ham United, in which the Bulgarian was only denied a dream debut goal by the woodwork.
He also had a spell with Glasgow giants Celtic, where he was also a massive fan favourite.
Both sets of supporters have since paid tribute to Stiliyan with banners and shirts. There was also a one minute applause during the 19th minute of both the clubs games following the announcement.
As football fans a players feelings never cross our minds. We forget that they indeed also have a life and a family. We go to football matches wanting to win at all costs, and if players do not live up to our own expectations we don’t hesitate in letting them know exactly what we think.
The famous quote by Liverpool’s legendary manager Bill Shankley “footballs not a matter of life and death … it’s much more important than that,” is a feeling that many football fans would agree with, including myself … until now anyway.
Now I know footballers including former Manchester City star Marc-Vivien Foe , and even the recent Piermario Morosini of Italian side Livorno, have died but it doesn’t hit you until someone you consider “your own” experience’s serious illness or even death.
The aforementioned quote, and in fact the game of football, does come into perspective and we as football fans should realise that football players are just like you and I. Yes, they may be wealthy people, but they have families and close friends who hurt as much as you or I would if something happened to one of our closest.
Stiliyan Petrov will forever have the support from the Aston Villa and Celtic faithful but I just ask you, as a football fan, to stop and think next time you personally abuse a footballer because no matter how much our club, or even the sport as a whole mean to us, it is in fact a business/game.