Stiliyan Petrov will be staying at Aston Villa as an assistant to player development coach Gordan Cowans. The good news comes only a few weeks after Stan announced his retirement from football after a successful battle with Leukemia.
What really struck me about the announcement, which you can read here, is the way that Petrov talks about the role he'll be assuming. Generally, I'd just assume that he'd be some sort of assistant coach. And it seems that Stan doesn't entirely see it that way. From the article (emphasis mine):
"My hope is that I can assist Gordon through my own experience in the game and that I can help the young lads to progress, become better players and better human beings. There are important values that we have always stood for at the Club and we will continue to do so... The main thing for me, however, is that it is not for sentimental reasons that I will be taking up this role but because I have something to contribute and I really want to do this."
We've had a few issues - luckily mostly minor and non-recurring - with players who have off-the-pitch problems. Barry Bannan's drink driving arrest comes to mind. One of the things that we kept hearing about Petrov in the past year is just how strong he was in terms of character. He seems to want to instill that strength in the Villa youth as well, which is a fantastic goal. It's nice, too, to see Paul Lambert echoing these traits, as he said Petrov "has a great deal to offer, first and foremost because of the way he is as a guy."
Also in the article, we find that Petrov was on the bench Sunday for reasons beyond the sentimental. He was apparently there at the request of Lambert who wanted Stan to see what sorts of preparation goes into matchday from the coaching side of things.
This has the potential to be a really worthwhile association, both for the club and Petrov. I'm glad that Aston Villa have found some way to keep one of their most beloved players in the fold, and it's better still that they've done so in a manner that may really benefit the team.