Alex McLeish was proud of the way Aston Villa performed in front of Stiliyan Petrov despite their 4-2 defeat at home to Chelsea.
It was an emotional afternoon for Villa on Saturday as Petrov watched on following the news on Friday that he has been diagnosed with acute leukaemia.
Players and fans showed their support to the Bulgarian, who will begin treatment on Monday at a London specialist hospital.
And McLeish has backed his captain to battle the illness after meeting his team-mates before kick-off at Villa Park.
"It is a measure of how popular the guy is that his former club Celtic, the Bulgarian nation and the whole of football will be rooting for Stan," McLeish told Sky Sports.
"We are right behind him in his recovery. He has taken his first couple of steps over the past couple of days and he says he will fight it and beat it and that is typical. I would expect that of him.
"He came in the dressing room and it was a good moment for the players."
Villa were not able to achieve the result they wanted for Petrov but displayed fighting qualities of their own to rally from 2-0 down and make a game of it.
It looked like they would salvage a draw after James Collins and Eric Lichaj had pegged the Blues back to 2-2, before a second goal from Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres' first in the Premier League for six months sealed Villa's defeat.
"We said it would be great if we could win this game for Stan," said McLeish.
"We obviously had to show the commitment and the passion and we did that.
"It was difficult because Chelsea are a world-class team but I am proud of the way the guys went about it."