Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill has expressed his 'devastation' after Stiliyan Petrov was diagnosed with acute leukaemia.
The Black Cats boss knows the Bulgarian midfielder well having been his manager at Celtic and holds him in the highest regard.
O'Neill's focus on Saturday was preparing his troops for their game at Manchester City - a match in which they secured a 3-3 draw.
Petrov has told O'Neill he will fight the disease and Sunderland's manager is backing the midfielder to win his battle.
"I'm obviously devastated to hear the news. I spoke to him last night," he commented in the post-match conference.
"He's really upbeat, he's going to fight it, he said. He will start treatment immediately. Obviously I've known him since he was about 19. I didn't bring him to Celtic but he was there.
"He learned the language pretty quickly considering he couldn't speak a word of English when he arrived from Bulgaria.
"I have the utmost regard for him, not only as a footballer but as a person. He's really strong mentally. Very, very strong. If anybody can fight this he'll fight it."