Petrov rules out return to football

The Bulgaria international, who played more than 200 times for Celtic, has recovered from leukaemia but wants to take time over his next steps

Former Bulgaria and Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov has ruled out a return to professional football, after the English club decided against handing the veteran a new contract.

In 2013 Petrov was forced to retire after contracting an acute form of leukaemia, but he trained at his former club's camp in Austria this off-season, with the intent of a remarkable return.

It was not to be for Petrov, who was, nevertheless, offered an unspecified role with the Birmingham club.

"There will be no comebacks. My return to professional football has failed but I will explain the reasons at a later stage," he told Kanal 3.

"I am glad I was able to come back and do a pre-season, but sometimes things do not work out the way we want.

"Could I become a manager in Bulgaria? Of course, but not soon. I do not want to rush. I have a lot of proposals... Now I want to devote my time to my family, as when others rested, I was training with Aston Villa and now want to spend time with them."

After over 200 games for Celtic, where he was a key creative component in Martin O'Neill's side that made the 2003 UEFA Cup final, Petrov became a universally liked figure in the following seven years at Villa.

Although he took part in friendlies during the off-season, new Villa manager Roberto Di Matteo ultimately did not see the Bulgarian in his plans for this season.