Fans show support for Petrov
Bulgarian supporters stage rally for sick Villa skipper
By Pete O'Rourke - Follow me: @skysportspeteo. Last Updated: April 19, 2012 9:02pm
Stiliyan Petrov: Recorded a message for rally in his honour in Sofia
Thousands of people turned out in Sofia's national stadium on Thursday to show their support for Aston Villa's Bulgarian captain Stiliyan Petrov who is battling acute leukaemia.
In a tribute to Petrov's shirt number, they gathered on April 19 at 1900 local time, wearing shirts with No. 19 for a 19-minute event that was broadcast live on TV and radio.
Among the crowd were Bulgarian sports minister Suilen Neykov and the mayor of Sofia, Yordanka Fandakova.
After the singing of the national anthem a message of thanks from Petrov was read out to the cheering fans.
In an audio address recorded in England and played at the stadium, the Aston Villa captain thanked fans for their "incredible love" and "invaluable support" at a hard time for him and his family.
"There are ordeals in life in which we must be stronger than ever, and I think I have enough strength and faith to cope. I do believe that, together, we will win this match, too," Petrov said.
The 32-year-old Petrov, who has started treatment at a London hospital, has received global support from players, fans and sports officials.
Petrov, who joined Villa in 2006 from Celtic, has won 105 caps for Bulgaria